SARASOTA, FLA. – After struggling in his spring training debut last week, Twins righthander Phil Hughes was sharper Thursday against a Baltimore Orioles lineup that included Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo.
The Twins led 6-1 at one point, but Baltimore rallied and hit two home runs off lefthander Ryan O’Rourke in the ninth inning to tie it 6-6, which ended up being the final score after 10 innings.
Hughes filled the strike zone with all his pitches and stayed out of trouble. His fastball measured 87-90 miles per hour on the radar gun, but that didn’t limit his aggressiveness. He threw 30 of his 45 pitches for strikes.
“Compared to last time, it was miles better,” Hughes said. “Starting out with some strike ones and throwing some decent cutters and moving the ball around the zone and elevating. I had the chance to work on some things instead of trying to get back into a bunch of counts like I did last time.”
Hughes had 0-2 counts five times, which allowed him to work on making quality pitches in that situation — something Twins pitching coach Neil Allen wants the staff to improve on.
“It opens up everything for you if you get to 0-2,” Hughes said. “You can control the at-bat.”
The Twins tied the score 1-1 in the second when Eddie Rosario legged out a triple after his sinking fly bounced past diving Hyun Soo Kim in left. Jorge Polanco socked a bases-clearing double in the third and added a solo home run in the fifth to make it 5-1. Tommy Field’s RBI single in the eighth made it 6-1.
But Michael Tonkin gave up a two-run homer in the eighth before O’Rourke took over in the ninth.
La VELLE E. NEAL III