BRADENTON, FLA. – Twins manager Paul Molitor was asked about the solid contact he heard throughout the afternoon as the Twins and Pirates played at LECOM Park.
“By who?” Molitor asked.
For the first part of the game, it was from Twins hitters as they raced out to a quick lead. But Pittsburgh got their licks in off relievers Tyler Kinley and Tyler Duffey to rally for an 11-8 victory Monday.
Miguel Sano went 3-for-3, including a long, two-run homer, in the first inning and raised his Grapefruit League batting average to .345. Max Kepler was 2-for-4 and Brian Dozier added a solo home run.
“That was fun early,” Molitor said after his team fell to 11-12-2 this spring. “We hit the ball. We ran the bases.”
Twins lefthanded reliever Taylor Rogers — getting to start so he could work against some major league hitters — gave up two runs in the first inning no a home run to Josh Bell. Trevor Hildenberger, mixing in some of his trusty changeups, tossed a scoreless second, before fellow righthander Tyler Kinley came on for the third inning with a 6-2 lead.
After hitting 98 mph on the radar gun while retiring the first six batters he faced, Kinley gave up three runs in the fifth, including a solo homer to Jose Osuna.
Duffey, being stretched out for long relief, gave up five runs over the last two innings, including a solo home run to Christopher Bostick. In 2⅔ innings Monday, Duffey gave up six runs, five earned, on seven hits and one walk. The righthander’s spring training ERA rose to 7.11.
“I think Tyler ran out of gas there,” Molitor said. “Just looking for him to throw it over.”
Kinley, a Rule 5 draft pick who must remain in the major leagues all season if the Twins are to retain him, also was being stretched out, to see if he can help in a multiple-inning role. Rogers and Hildenberger were pitching for the second consecutive day, something they need to do as they prepare for regular-season usage.
La VELLE E. NEAL III