Game 11: Kubel homers but Twins falter in loss to Rays

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Jason Kubel hit his first homer of the spring but it was all the offense the Twins could muster in a 7-1 loss to the Rays on Tuesday at Charlotte Sports Park.

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco also made his second Grapefruit League start for the Twins (5-5-1), giving up two runs on four hits over four innings.

What went right: Kubel entered the game just 1-for-14 this spring but homered in his first at-bat against Rays left-hander David Price.

It was a positive sign for Kubel, who still has a strong shot to make the roster as a designated hitter/outfielder despite his slow start to the spring.

Wilkin Ramirez, Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Escobar had the other three hits for the Twins, who managed just four on the afternoon.

Nolasco was mostly solid, coming off Thursday’s simulated game after his scheduled start on Thursday’s was rained out. But he did give up an RBI double to Yunel Escobar and an RBI single to David DeJesus in the second inning.

What went wrong: Left-hander Scott Diamond gave up two runs on four hits and a walk over two innings, and now has a 6.00 ERA in three appearances this spring.

Diamond, who is competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, hasn’t been helping himself with his recent outings. But he wasn’t hit hard on Tuesday, as none of the hits were for extra-bases and the runs scored on a sacrifice fly and an RBI groundout.

So Diamond still remains in the mix for that final spot in the rotation but needs to put together some solid outings as the Twins get closer to the end of spring.

Right-hander Ryan Pressly, who was solid as a Rule 5 Draft pick last year, gave up two runs in his one inning of work and has an 8.31 ERA in 4 1/3 innings this spring. The two runs came on a homer from Jeremy Moore in the seventh inning but Pressly settled down after the homer to strike out the next two batters

Left-hander Caleb Thielbar also gave up a run in the eighth on an RBI double from Curt Casali.

What they said: “It felt good to finally hit one hard. The results aren’t there but I feel like over the last few games, my last four or five at-bats are feeling pretty good. So if it keeps getting better each day before the season starts, I’ll be right where I want to be.” — Kubel on his first home run of the spring.

What’s next: Right-hander Kevin Correia is set to make his second Grapefruit League appearance on Wednesday against the Pirates in a 12:05 p.m. CT start at Hammond Stadium. Correia has been sharp so far in spring, and has also made appearances in an intrasquad game and a B’ game. Right-hander Gerrit Cole is slated to start for Pittsburgh.

Injury update: Outfielder Aaron Hicks, who has been feeling discomfort in his right elbow while swinging the bat, is expected to return to the lineup on Wednesday. … Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, who has been dealing with what he think is food poisoning, is also expected to play Wednesday. … Reliever Matt Guerrier, who surgery in mid-August to repair the flexor mass in his right elbow, tossed a scoreless inning in his spring debut in a Minor League intrasquad game.

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