FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the second day in a row, Nick Gordon's first trip to the plate ended with a ball ricocheting off his right shoulder. Tough business, these major leagues.
"Ah, he was just coming in on me and got it in a little too far," said Gordon, who added his shoulder was already sore from being hit by a Gophers pitcher the night before. "It happens."
This time, though, the shortstop prospect got a little revenge, cracking a ninth-inning double that sparked a two-run rally. But a mental-mistake double play ended the game, and the Twins lost their Grapefruit League opener 4-3 to the Red Sox at JetBlue Park.
Gordon, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, said the double off Red Sox rookie Josh Smith represented progress. "I stayed in there against a lefty — that's what I've been working on. It felt good to see things coming together," he said. "I saw that pitch earlier [in the at-bat], stayed in there and kept competing."
Paul Molitor noticed. "It's fun to watch a guy from one spring to the next," the Twins manager said. "He's got a little juice in his bat, knows what he's doing. He got it on the barrel and gave us a chance to get back in the game."
The Twins trailed 4-1 entering the ninth. Outfielder Ryan LaMarre drove in all three Twins runs, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the seventh and knocking home Gordon and Sean Miller in the ninth. The Twins had the tying run on third with one out, but when James Ramsey hit a grounder directly to first base, Gregorio Petit, who had been on first, slid into a game-ending tag at second before LaMarre could score.
"It's one of the few plays where [a baserunner] has to stay with the baseball even though it's behind you, to see what the guy's going to do. You learn you can't run into that out to end the game," Molitor said. "Stop, and we tie the game. But it happens fast."