FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins finally scored against Atlanta pitching. But they still can't beat the Braves.
Luis Arraez's two-out double capped Minnesota's five-run inning Friday, but Atlanta rallied when longtime minor leaguer Sean Kazmar belted a three-run home run off Twins reliever Tyler Duffey, earning Atlanta an 8-5, eight-inning victory at Hammond Stadium, their third straight against the Twins in Grapefruit League play.
Andrelton Simmons went 0-for-3 in his Twins debut at shortstop.
Twins starter Michael Pineda allowed two runs on five hits over 2⅔ innings, but he struck out six of the 14 hitters he faced.
"For me, this is a good start to spring training," he said. "Got a lot of base hits, but I have to grind on the mound, try to strike out more people and stay in the game, you know? So it's a good start for work."
The Twins, shut out by Atlanta in 17 consecutive innings this spring, finally broke through in the fourth inning against Braves starter Huascar Ynoa — a former Twins prospect — and reliever Philip Pfeifer, racking up four singles, a walk and Arraez's double, his second of the game, to take a lead against Atlanta for the first time in three games.
But Duffey suffered his second three-run inning of the spring in the seventh, allowing Atlanta bench players Bryce Ball and Trey Harris to reach base before striking out Braden Shewmake. But Kazmar, a 16-season minor-league veteran who beat the Twins with a clutch double last week, launched a 90-mph Duffey fastball onto the left-field berm, putting Atlanta ahead for good, and they tacked on a couple more runs in the eighth.
Lewis Thorpe was one of five Twins to pitch one inning in relief of Pineda, but manager Rocco Baldelli said it was because he had thrown earlier in the day on an auxiliary field. Thorpe is still being prepared as a starter, and if he eventually winds up with a bullpen role, it would not be in one-inning stints.