FORT MYERS, FLA. – Anibal Sanchez shook off a bad sixth inning with a 1-2-3 seventh inning Sunday. Set up for a strong finish, the Twins sent him back out for the eighth.
Two batters later, the veteran righthander was out of the game and the Pirates were well on their way to a 9-3 victory at Hammond Stadium.
“The line is not going to look good,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Sanchez gave up six runs on five hits and one walk in two-plus innings.
In the sixth, Sanchez gave up three consecutive singles, including an RBI single to Colin Moran, before laying a pitch over the heart of the plate to catcher Elias Diaz. Diaz hammered the pitch over the wall in left-center field for a three run homer and 5-3 Pirates lead.
Sanchez came back in the seventh to retire the side in order, including strikeouts of Cole Tucker and Max Moroff. Instead of ending the day on a positive note, Sanchez gave up a leadoff single to Todd Cunningham in the eighth. Cunningham stole second, then Eric Wood followed with a walk, bringing Molitor and his hook out of the dugout. Both runners ended up scoring to give Pittsburgh a 7-3 lead. The Pirates added two more runs in the ninth.
“They hit some balls hard,” Molitor said. “The home run was an offspeed pitch. Not sure if it was a backup slider. It just kind of spun out over the plate a little bit.
“He gets some funny swings but then they get some good swings. It was a little inconsistent.”
The Twins scored the first three runs of game, two driven in by Joe Mauer, on a sacrifice fly in the first and a RBI groundout in the third. The Twins took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning on a run-scoring single by Max Kepler, his first RBI of spring training.