FORT MYERS, Fla. – New guys tend to make mistakes. Even Joe Mauer.
The former catcher, still learning to be a full-time first baseman, kicked away a bases-loaded, two-out ground ball in the eighth inning Wednesday, then bobbled it while trying to retrieve it. By the time Mauer finally picked the baseball up and threw it home, two runs had scored, enabling the Pirates to steal a 2-1 victory from the Twins at Hammond Stadium.
"He just babalooed a ball at first base," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Pretty good, clean ballgame until the end."
Ricky Nolasco was mostly the reason for that, pitching four strong innings in his final tuneup for his Opening Day start Monday against the White Sox.
"Last start of spring, you want to tone it down, get yourself fresh and ready to go," the righthander said after he faced only one batter more than the minimum, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out three. "I've been ready for about two weeks."
Oswaldo Arcia popped up in the seventh inning of a scoreless game, but in the bright, blustery day, Pirates catcher Tony Sanchez dropped the ball behind home plate. Given a second chance, Arcia bashed his second home run of the spring, then did an exaggerated point-to-the-sky, pound-his-hips celebration at home plate.
"Just got a little excited," Arcia laughed after the game.
Pittsburgh starter Brandon Cumpton held the Twins scoreless over five innings. They scored only one run for the fourth time in seven games.