FORT MYERS, Fla. – Garvin Alston walked past Lance Lynn’s locker Tuesday and noticed all the media members waiting for the Twins’ new righthander. The pitching coach stopped and asked rhetorically, “How’s that for a debut?”
Yep, the starting pitcher who hadn’t faced a batter yet this spring couldn’t have been better, going three hitless innings one day after signing a one-year contract, striking out five of the 10 hitters he faced and not allowing a ball to reach the outfield.
But the pitchers who have been in camp for a month, who are expected to hold down key spots in Minnesota’s bullpen? They could use a little of that Lynn luck.
New closer Fernando Rodney allowed a run for the second time in three spring outings, and Trevor Hildenberger and Taylor Rogers both surrendered runs for the third consecutive appearance apiece. Baltimore battered the Twins bullpen to rally from a four-run deficit and stop the Twins’ Grapefruit League winning streak at five with a 7-5 victory at Hammond Stadium.
Orioles shortstop Manny Machado doubled off Rodney and scored on a Pedro Alvarez single, then singled home an unearned run against Hildenberger, who also allowed a two-run homer to Orioles catcher Austin Wynns. Rogers allowed a two-run homer by Baltimore outfielder Anthony Santander that put the Orioles ahead for good.
“I know they would like to have a clean inning, after giving up some hits lately,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said about his relievers. “It’s not overly concerning to me, as far as watching how they work and the pitches they’re throwing.”
The Twins blew a 4-0 lead built upon the wildness of Orioles starter Chris Tillman, who walked six of the 14 hitters he faced, including one with the bases loaded. Reliever Donnie Hart also walked in a run.
After Baltimore tied the score against Hildenberger, outfielder Ryan LaMarre temporarily gave the Twins the lead with a double to center that scored Brock Stassi. LaMarre also hit a sacrifice fly and became the first Twin this spring to reach 10 RBI.