FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Twins used three home runs and a five-run inning to beat up on the Red Sox in an 8-2 Thursday at JetBlue Park.
This column presents 5 thoughts from Thursday’s game.
Follow me on Twitter (@DerekWetmore) for regular Twins analysis and opinion, or on Instagram (@dwetmore) for a photo of the day during spring training, and photos of my fish tank after spring training.
1. Ervin Santana and J.O. Berrios combined to take a perfect game into the sixth inning, when Dan Butler’s infield single against Berrios foiled that attempt. The pair combined to retire 16 Red Sox hitters before Butler reached base.
Santana seemed sharp against a Red Sox lineup that included a lot of regulars. Santana struck out the side in the second inning when he mowed down David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. He also got four ground ball outs and a weak popup off the bat of Dustin Pedroia. The only ball that left the infield in Santana’s three innings of work was Xander Bogaerts’ flyout in the first inning. Manager Paul Molitor noted that Santana was efficient and clean, and that he got some “funny swings” against good hitters, which was a good sign, Molitor said.
Berrios also looked strong in his three innings, including two strikeouts (Ramirez looking, Sandoval swinging). The infield single hit to shortstop was the only runner that got on base against Berrios, who also got three outs on the ground and one infield popout.
Twins evaluators were more curious to see how Berrios pitched his second time out than his first, according to one source, so the good outing should be seen as an encouraging sign after he walked three batters in his first outing of the spring. Some believe that nerves played a factor in that debut for Berrios.
2. Eduardo Escobar and Kurt Suzuki got the scoring started early for the Twins with back-to-back home runs over the faux Green Monster in left field in the 2nd inning.
Both Escobar and Suzuki pulled a pitch from Red Sox starter David Price into the seats that sit atop the giant green wall that resembles Fenway’s Green Monster.
Escobar slugged 12 home runs last year and overtook the shortstop job in the middle of the season when Danny Santana struggled so mightily for an extended period of time. He has some pop, and you’ll see him clear the wall in batting practice.
Suzuki, on the other hand, seems to focus more on spraying line drives in batting practice, and it’s rare to see him hit one out of the park. Last year, Suzuki hit five home runs, and he hasn’t hit more than six in a season since 2011.
Later Carlos Quentin slugged a ball that cleared the seats in left and sailed clear out of the ballpark.
3. Once David Price left the game, the Twins piled on with five runs in the fourth inning, including a leadoff solo home run from Carlos Quentin that cleared the left-field wall and sailed all the way out of the ballpark.
Eduardo Escobar followed that with a single and then Kurt Suzuki poked a single through the left side of the infield on a well-executed hit-and-run. Byron Buxton walked and Brian Dozier hit a two-strike pitch for an RBI single. Danny Santana and Trevor Plouffe tacked on the final runs of the frame against Heath Hembree, with an RBI groundout and a sacrifice fly, respectively.
4. Photo of the Day: Blue skies at JetBlue Park.
5. Indications are that the Twins will have decisions made on the first round of cuts by Sunday. Whether the cuts are actually made that day or not remains to be seen.
With 64 players in camp, including 24 non-roster invites, the first round of cuts should help to thin the herd, so to speak, as Minnesota works to figure out which 25 players will comprise the opening day roster.
I spoke with Twins GM Terry Ryan and manager Paul Molitor, and the general understanding after those conversations is that at a certain point, spring training evaluation will shift from players merely getting work in to a more serious review of their spring performance. For some players, Ryan said, that shift happened on the first day of camp. For others, like established veterans, that process probably never fully kicks into high gear until the regular season begins.