SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC – Miguel Sano and Nelson Cruz both had been saying in the days leading up to Saturday about how excited they were to get a chance to play in their home country.
It showed. Sano homered and had two hits, and Cruz also had two hits as the Twins beat Detroit 7-6 at Roberto Clemente Stadium, Major League Baseball’s first exhibition game in the Dominican Republic since 2000.
“It’s an honor,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “… You can see the energy and you can just see it in people’s eyes at the stadium today, they love the players. We need that kind of energy in the game, and it’s right here.”
Drew Maggi’s solo home run in the seventh broke a 6-6 tie.
Sano had a two-run homer in the third, with Cruz scoring on the play, and added an RBI single in the fifth after Cruz doubled.
Devin Smeltzer had his third rough start in a row, giving up eight hits and five runs in three innings. Dominicans Jorge Alcala and Jhoan Duran also pitched an inning each for the Twins before Danny Couloumbe picked up the save.
Jorge Bonifacio, who is from the Dominican, and Willi Castro homered for the Tigers.
The Twins flew back to Fort Myers, Fla., following the game and will play against the Red Sox on Sunday at JetBlue Park, although none of the players who made the trip to Santo Domingo is expected to play vs. Boston.