FORT MYERS, FLA. – There's something comforting, less than a week from the start of the regular season, about throwing practically your entire bullpen at the defending league champions, and watching them give up little but scratch hits and a couple of runs.
That's what the Twins will choose to remember about their 2-0 loss to the Rays at Hammond Stadium on Saturday. Not the fact that their all-but-complete Opening Day lineup couldn't manage more than four measly singles.
Cody Stashak retired all three hitters he faced, Alex Colomé struck out three batters in his inning, and the Twins turned three double plays behind their all-reliever staff. And Brandon Waddell, Derek Law and Caleb Thielbar, still alive in a three-way competition for the last available bullpen slot, all made their case with a scoreless inning apiece.
Only Hansel Robles slipped up, leaving a 2-0 changeup over the middle of the plate against Rays catcher Francisco Mejia, a pitch that Mejia drove over Byron Buxton's head and off the center field wall for a double in the fifth inning. Moments later, first baseman Dalton Kelly poked a changeup well out of the strike zone into center field, scoring Mejia.
Tampa Bay, which won three of the eight games against the Twins this spring, added another run in the ninth off righthander Ian Hamilton, with Kelly again providing a well-placed RBI single.
The Twins, meanwhile, were shut out for the fourth time in Grapefruit League play — they have scored two runs or fewer in 12 of their 25 games — and didn't record an extra-base hit. Max Kepler, though, collected one of the singles, a jam-shot opposite-field bloop, notable because it broke his 0-for-32 drought dating back to March 2.
The Twins face Boston on Sunday at JetBlue Stadium (noon CDT), with Jose Berrios making his final spring start.