FORT MYERS, Fla. – Ervin Santana didn’t even break a sweat, and this time, Jose Berrios didn’t either. Fernando Abad added to his strong case for a bullpen spot, and together, that trio retired 21 of the 22 hitters they faced Thursday, pitching the Twins to an easy 8-2 victory over Boston at JetBlue Park.
Eduardo Escobar and Kurt Suzuki hit back-to-back home runs off David Price, and Carlos Quentin blasted a pitch out of JetBlue Park, increasing the Twins’ home-run advantage over their spring opponents to 10-5.
Santana needed only 26 pitches to complete three speedy innings, retiring all nine hitters he faced.
“Ervin looked very sharp. He got some funny swings, which is a good sign, off some pretty good hitters,” Molitor said. “It was efficient, it was clean. I don’t think he sweats much.”
Berrios, whose nervousness produced three walks in his debut last week, was nearly as efficient in facing 10 batters, his only mistake coming in the sixth inning, when Boston catcher Dan Butler beat out an infield single, ending the Twins’ no-hit bid. And Abad, emerging as a front-runner for a spot in the Twins’ bullpen, made quick work of the Red Sox in the seventh, finishing his perfect inning by striking out designated hitter Christian Vazquez.
Then there’s Alex Meyer.
“The first couple hitters, his location wasn’t too good. But he stayed with it,” Molitor said after the tall righthander with the 97-mph fastball fell behind four of the five hitters he faced, threw a wild pitch, and allowed a walk and two hits to surrender the Red Sox’s only two runs.
There might be a reason for the relapse into control problems, Molitor guessed. Meyer worked on his mechanics with pitching coach Neil Allen on Thursday, trying “to find a way to take advantage of his frame and drive off that back side a little bit,” Molitor said. “When you come fresh off something like that, you might be thinking more about doing that.”