BRADENTON, Fla. – Chris Colabello spent the winter trying to figure out how to break his obsession with outside pitches. On Friday, he feasted inside.
Colabello went 3-for-3 and singled home Jorge Polanco with the go-ahead run in the ninth inning Friday, helping the Twins rally from a five-run deficit to claim a 6-5 victory over the Pirates at Mc-Kechnie Field.
Colabello, who replaced Joe Mauer in the sixth inning, doubled and singled twice and was in the middle of three straight rallies as the Twins knocked out nine hits over the final three innings.
"Last year, I got to a certain point where I wanted the ball away so much, I almost stopped worry about [inside pitches] altogether," Colabello said after raising his spring average to .455. "But it was right after TwinsFest, I kind of had a breakthrough, felt some good things happening. It's just about when I realized what guys are doing to me — to be able to say, 'Hey, you can't do that anymore.' "
The Twins needed Colabello's breakthrough Friday, because Vance Worley gave up five runs and retired only four batters to open the game, an ugly outing that ended with Andrew McCutchen's two-run homer onto the right field party deck.
But the bullpen never let Pittsburgh score again, and Twins rallied with three runs in the seventh, helped greatly by two Pirates errors, and two more runs in the eighth on four singles and a hit batter to tie the score. That set up Colabello's heroics, and he provided a line single to right-center that score Polanco, who had doubled.
"We know what Colly can do," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "If he stays on the ball and gets his foot down early, he gets on the ball pretty good."