Game 7: Twins falter in first night game of spring

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Twins were hit hard by the Orioles, as they were done in by a pair of five-run innings in an 11-5 loss on Wednesday night at Hammond Stadium.

Right-hander Mike Pelfrey couldn’t get through three frames, as he lasted 2 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits.

What went right: The Twins scored three runs in the second inning against Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman, who is expected to be Baltimore’s Opening Day starter.

But the Twins were helped by an error by right fielder Xavier Paul, who dropped a flyball, which allowed Josh Willingham to reach third base. Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki and Alex Presley each had RBI singles after error.

Minnesota didn’t score again until the seventh, when Eduardo Escobar laced an RBI triple and scored on a sacrifice fly from Kennys Vargas.

Reliever Michael Tonkin tossed two scoreless innings with two strikeouts, helping the case for the hard-throwing right-hander to make the club out of camp.

What went wrong: Pelfrey got through the first two innings with relative ease but struggled in the third inning.

He was chased after an RBI double from Quintin Berry with one out in the third, and was removed in favor of reliever Jared Burton. Burton fared even worse, allowing an RBI single to Paul before serving up a three-run blast to Johnny Monell.

Closer Glen Perkins loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, and gave up a run on an RBI groundout from Jemile Weeks. Perkins also forgot to cover first base on a grounder hit to Joe Mauer, who looked to throw to second but decided to go to first base, only to see Perkins wasn’t there.

Left-hander Scott Diamond, who is competing for the final spot in the rotation, didn’t help his case but was also hurt by a run-scoring throwing error by second baseman Jorge Polanco. Diamond ended up giving up five runs (one earned) on four hits over two innings.

What they said: “The biggest thing tonight was I didn’t throw enough strikes. I was kind of all over the place. But it’s still early. And physically, I felt good.” — Pelfrey on his outing.

What’s next: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco is set to make his second Grapefruit League start for the Twins on Thursday, when they host the Cardinals at Hammond Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT. Nolasco threw two scoreless innings in his debut against the Rays on Sunday. Right-hander Adam Wainwright is slated to start for St. Louis.

Injury update: Shortstop Pedro Florimon has progressed to taking groundballs, as he took grounders with his teammates before the game. He wasn’t throwing across the diamond but was throwing home without any issues.

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