Game 15: De Vries sets tone in win over Pirates
BRADENTON, Fla. — Right-hander Cole De Vries turned in another solid outing and Ray Olmedo provided the go-ahead RBI single in the seventh inning to help lead the Twins to a 5-4 win over the Pirates on Saturday at McKechnie Field.
The Twins improved to 9-6 with the win and play the Pirates again tomorrow at Hammond Stadium.
What went right: De Vries was solid again, as he’s yet to give up an earned run this spring.
De Vries, making his fourth Spring Training outing, allowed one unearned run on one hit and a walk over three innings against the Pirates. He’s allowed just two hits and a walk in seven scoreless innings so far in Grapefruit League play.
He’s in the mix for the final spot in the rotation but the Twins only need four starters to open the year with a day off after Opening Day. Left-hander Scott Diamond could open the year on the disabled list, however, as he’s not expected to start his first Grapefruit League game until March 18.
Pitching prospect Alex Meyer, who was acquired in the Denard Span trade, was also impressive. He struck out three in three scoreless innings in his second Grapefruit League appearance. He’s expected to start the year at Double-A New Britain but has really turned heads so far in Spring Training.
Darin Mastroianni, in his first game back since suffering a strained left hamstring on Feb. 28, went 2-for-3 with an RBI single. But he was also picked off at first base in the first inning after leading off the game with a single off right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Eduardo Escobar went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. He’s been solid this spring with a .375 average while providing solid defense at second, short and third and has a legitimate shot to make the club as a utility player.
And Ray Olmedo, who is also competing for a utility role despite being a non-roster invite, had another good day at the plate by going 2-for-3 to raise his average to .364.
Clete Thomas brought home a run with an infield RBI single with two outs in the ninth. He’s hitting .318 this spring.
What went wrong: Center fielder Joe Benson had another rough day, as he dropped a fly ball in the first inning that eventually led to a run scoring and went 0-for-3 at the plate while leaving four runners on base.
Benson, who is competing for the center field job with Aaron Hicks and Mastroianni, is hitting just .097 this spring with a team-high 11 strikeouts in 36 plate appearances. But he is tied with Joe Mauer for the team lead in walks with five.
Hicks, though, is in the lead in the center field competition while Mastroianni is firmly in second, as he’s hitting .429 but in only six games.
Right-hander Casey Fien fared fine in two innings in relief of De Vries but did serve up a solo shot to Ivan DeJesus Jr. in the fifth.
Fellow right-hander Anthony Slama couldn’t close the door in the ninth inning, as he gave up a two-run single to Brad Hawpe with two outs after loading the bases. Right-hander Virgil Vasquez, who made the trip despite being in Minor League camp, recorded the final out to pick up the save.
What they said: “I take it as though it’s my spot and my spot to lose. I want to go out there and attack and pitch as well as I can. If they staff is looking at it like it’s not my spot and somebody else’s, I want to make it as hard as I can on them. And if it is my spot, I want to prove that there’s no doubt that I deserve it.” — De Vries.
What’s next: The Twins play the Pirates for a second straight day with right-hander Liam Hendriks set to take the mound in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Hammond Stadium. Hendriks, who is competing for a spot in the rotation, has a 3.38 ERA in three Grapefruit League appearances. Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez is scheduled to start for Pittsburgh.
Injury update: Right fielder Chris Parmelee (tight right groin) isn’t expected to return until Wednesday. The Twins are being cautious with him. … Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (strained intercostal) could make his Grapefruit League debut on Sunday if all goes well doing his workout on Saturday. … Right-hander Anthony Swarzak (ribs) is expected to throw his first bullpen late this week.