FORT MYERS, FLA. - Twenty- five games into their 32-game exhibition schedule, the Twins finally had a chance to field their Opening Day lineup Thursday.
Michael Cuddyer was back, joining Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and the others, but Francisco Liriano still managed to make the first three innings all about him.
Every out Liriano recorded was a strikeout -- all nine -- yet each inning presented a string of opportunities for the Orioles. Liriano allowed three walks and four hits, including a home run to Adam Jones, and threw 76 pitches before Kevin Slowey replaced him to start the fourth inning.
The Twins, who held on for a 5-2 victory at Hammond Stadium, hoped Liriano would pitch five or six innings.
"I need to go deeper in the game and not try to strike everybody out," said Liriano, who had seven strikeouts over five innings against Baltimore in his previous start. "I wasn't really happy with how I pitched tonight."
Cuddyer went 1-for-2 with a double in his first Grapefruit League game of the spring. He played in minor-league games the previous three days, trying to rebuild leg strength with his left foot healing from his March 1 wart removal surgery.
"There's still a hole there, but it's not as big as it was," Cuddyer said. "I think it's manageable."
With all his starters together, manager Ron Gardenhire batted Cuddyer seventh, behind Delmon Young and Jason Kubel.
"I like our lineup," Gardenhire said. "I can mix and match, put them in this way this time, and I can move them around in different spots.
"When you've got Danny Valencia batting eighth, you're doing good because he's a pretty good hitter."
Gardenhire also is excited about the speed Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Alexi Casilla bring to the lineup.
Nishioka had an interesting game. With Denard Span on second base in the first inning, he bunted him to third. The Twins didn't give the bunt sign, but Nishioka said he was playing the percentages.
"You really thought I put that [bunt] on?" Gardenhire said to reporters. "I'm a good manager sometimes -- like four days out of seven. I told him, rather than sacrifice in those situations, I'd like to see him bunt for a base hit."
Nishioka extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an infield single in the second inning. Mauer followed with a two-run double off the left-center field wall, but Nishioka waited to make sure the ball wasn't caught and only made it to second base.
"That was my mistake," Nishioka said through an interpreter. "I can't let that happen when the season starts. That could cost us the game."