Game 16: Hendriks gives up three homers in loss
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Josh Willingham homered and Aaron Hicks had another strong day at the plate but Liam Hendriks served up three homers in a 7-4 loss to the Pirates on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.
The loss dropped the Twins to 9-7 in Grapefruit League play, and they take on the Rays tomorrow in a night game at Charlotte Sports Park.
What went right: Willingham launched a homer that landed over the trees beyond the left-field fence and has had himself a solid spring with a .407 average and two homers.
Hicks also continued his impressive spring by going 1-for-2 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored. He now leads all players with 13 Spring Training RBIs and ranks third in runs scored with 11.
His main competitor in center field, Darin Mastroianni, drew two walks, stole a base and scored. Mastroianni has also fared well this spring but has played in just seven games because of a strained left hamstring.
Second baseman Brian Dozier went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI to raise his batting average to .259. But he also grounded out to shortstop with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning and made an error in the ninth.
Left-hander Pedro Hernandez, acquired in the Francisco Liriano trade last year, threw three scoreless innings. He hasn’t allowed a run in seven Grapefruit League innings.
Relievers Jared Burton and Tim Wood each threw a scoreless inning, which was a good sign considering some of their recent struggles.
What went wrong: Hendriks gave up just three hits but they were all homers, as he served up big flies to Gaby Sanchez, Tony Sanchez and Andrew McCutchen.
He said he simply couldn’t repeat his mechanics and it caused him to fall behind in the count too much, especially in his third and final inning. Hendriks had been pitching well until today, so he’ll need to bounce back in his next outing to keep up in the race for the final spot in the rotation.
Reliever Alex Burnett continued his struggles, as he gave up three runs in the seventh inning on three hits. He also made a fielding error and has a 9.00 ERA this spring, which doesn’t even include the three runs he gave up in an inning against Puerto Rico in an exhibition game.
What they said: “Our starter couldn’t locate a fastball. He couldn’t get the fastball over the plate. He was jumping at the plate. We’ve seen that before. He just has to make that adjustment and slow everything down. He was like a bull. And when the wind is blowing out, that’s what happens.” — Gardenhire on Hendriks.
What’s next: The Twins play their second night game of Spring Training in a 7:05 p.m. ET start against the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park. Right-hander Vance Worley, who was acquired in the Ben Revere trade, is set to start for the Twins. Right-hander Roberto Hernandez is scheduled to take the mound for Tampa Bay.
Injury update: Right fielder Chris Parmelee (tight right groin) took swings in the cage on Sunday and is still on track to make his return on Wednesday. … Third baseman Trevor Plouffe (right calf) aggravated his injury during morning workouts on Sunday and was held out of the lineup. Gardenhire said he could be out a “week-plus.”