Twins close out spring with loss, head to regular season betting they're better

Players believe their lineup is strong enough to overcome pitching issues.

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Boston’s David Renfroe stepped on third base to force the Twins’ Aaron Hicks on a grounder by Trevor Plouffe on Saturday.

Photo: Photos by Elise Amendola • Associated Press ,

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– The Twins on Saturday closed out the spring training schedule with a 4-2 loss to the Red Sox at JetBlue Park, then headed for a regular season in which they believe they’ll be a better team than last year.

How much better? That’s what everyone wants to know.

They didn’t make splashy free-agent signings. They are relying on inexperience in the middle infield and center field. And those closely following the team are practically overlooking this season to when the wave of talent from the farm system will start rolling in.

These Twins are living in the present. So, at this point, they are not under .500.

“Once that first pitch is made, it’s a new season and everyone has a chance,’’ said first baseman Justin Morneau, who enters a season without serious health issues for the first time since 2010. “We made some good additions, some veteran presence and hopefully it will be a good year for us.’’

Morneau hit .287 with three homers and 11 RBI in spring training games. His buddy Joe Mauer batted .452 with a .553 on-base percentage. When both play, the Twins have been tough to beat. Both feeling as good as they have in years has many optimistic that the offense will be above average.

Josh Willingham, who hit 35 homers last season, will bat between them. Aaron Hicks, who will bat leadoff, has very good plate discipline and is being mentioned among contenders for the AL Rookie of the Year award.

“Coming in here, everyone talked about how this team can put up runs, and I truly believe that,’’ said Mike Pelfrey, who gave up four runs over 3⅔ innings Saturday. “I think the bullpen is going to be rock solid. It’s a matter of us starters keeping them in the game and giving us a chance and I think we’re going to do that.

“It’s all about what we believe in the clubhouse and not what people believe outside of it. I think we have a lot of doubters, not that we need motivation, but it definitely adds a little more.’’

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire also is confident the offense will be productive. He has praised the defensive work of Hicks in center, Pedro Florimon at short and Brian Dozier at second. Gardenhire said it’s up to the starters to stay in games longer than last season, when the rotation had the second-highest ERA in baseball.

And, he believes, there is nothing wrong with having a chip on your shoulder. So the players who have been around for 195 losses the previous two seasons should be looking to make someone pay.

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HR: DET- I.Kinsler (12) MIN- E.Escobar (4), D.Santana (6)

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Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 4
Houston - WP: T. Sipp 5 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 1
San Francisco - WP: T. Hudson 10 FINAL
Washington - LP: D. Fister 3
St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 4 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 5
Chicago WSox - LP: D. Webb 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: D. Robertson 4
Tampa Bay - WP: D. Smyly 8 FINAL
Toronto - LP: M. Stroman 0
Atlanta 1 Top 11th Inning
Cincinnati 1
Seattle 4 Top 9th Inning
Boston 3
Kansas City 5 Top 8th Inning
Texas 3
Pittsburgh 6 Top 8th Inning
Milwaukee 2
Detroit 5 Bottom 6th Inning
Minnesota 6
Miami 6 Top 6th Inning
Colorado 4
San Diego 0 Bottom 4th Inning
Arizona 4
LA Angels 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Oakland 1
NY Mets 1 Top 3rd Inning
Los Angeles 0
Carolina 7 FINAL
New England 30
NY Giants 28 4th Qtr 3:51
NY Jets 24
Jacksonville 12 4th Qtr 0:27
Detroit 13
Oakland 7 3rd Qtr 0:37
Green Bay 25
Chicago 0 1st Qtr 1:55
Seattle 7
Tampa Bay 8/23/14 3:30 PM
Buffalo
Tennessee 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Atlanta
Dallas 8/23/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Washington 8/23/14 6:30 PM
Baltimore
New Orleans 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Indianapolis
Minnesota 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Kansas City
St. Louis 8/23/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Houston 8/23/14 8:00 PM
Denver
San Diego 8/24/14 3:00 PM
San Francisco
Cincinnati 8/24/14 7:00 PM
Arizona
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Jacksonville
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Miami
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:00 PM
ULM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
UCF 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Penn State
Real Salt Lake 0 2nd Half 35:00
FC Dallas 1
Montreal 6 2:30
Winnipeg 8
Toronto 8/23/14 3:00 PM
Edmonton
Calgary 8/24/14 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/24/14 6:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 2:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Chicago 80 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Los Angeles 21 2nd Qtr 4:54
Phoenix 22
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