– Two things plaguing the Twins batters last season were called third strikes and leaving runners on base. Those have been points of emphasis this spring, but the results have been mixed.

Not on Sunday, as the key hit in the Twins’ 4-2 victory over Miami on Sunday was Eduardo Escobar’s two-out, two-run opposite-field single in the seventh inning.

The Twins know what they are, or at least manager Ron Gardenhire does. They don’t have a lot of power or speed, so they must convert opportunities into runs. That didn’t happen last season as the Twins’ .225 batting average with runners in scoring position was second-worst in baseball, and Gardenhire’s hair turned white — or disappeared — at an alarming number of called strike threes.

With improved starting pitching, the Twins expect to be in more close games this year. So they need to be efficient at the plate.

“I don’t mind if we’re not scoring five, six runs,” Gardenhire said. “We’re going to have to ad-lib a little bit. We know that. There will be days when the offense swings the bats really well. We’ve got some guys who can hit, but they are going to have to hit together.”

Righthander Ricky Nolasco left some pitches up but gave up only two runs over five innings on seven hits and no walks. Trevor Plouffe and Oswaldo Arcia each had two hits.

lA velle e. neal iii