After strong spring start, Sadler struggles vs. Twins

Righty allows three earned runs on five hits in rare off outing

After strong spring start, Sadler struggles vs. Twins

BRADENTON, Fla. -- First baseman Kennys Vargas and the Twins took advantage of a few early mistakes by the Pirates on Friday afternoon at McKechnie Field, jumping out to a three-run lead and going on to win, 8-3.

Vargas, expected to be the Twins' everyday designated hitter this season, put Minnesota up, 3-0, in the first inning with his second home run of the spring, a booming shot to left field. He went 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs on the day.

Twins shortstop Danny Santana led off the game with a double against Pirates right-hander Casey Sadler. Santana immediately came around to score when Pirates second baseman Neil Walker fielded a ground ball off the bat of Jordan Schafer and nearly threw the ball into the Bucs' dugout.

Sadler had gotten off to a great start this spring, tossing five hitless innings over his first two Grapefruit League outings. But Friday was a different story for one of Pittsburgh's top rotation-insurance options.

Sadler wound up allowing four runs (three earned) on five hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings of work. Reliever Wilfredo Boscan took the ball from Sadler in the third with the bases loaded, gave up an RBI single to Oswaldo Arcia then got out of the inning.

"I felt all right," Sadler said. "Only difference between now and the last couple outings is the ball was a little elevated today. It gets a little flat when it gets up around the [hitters'] thighs. I just wasn't able to really drive the ball down on a consistent basis."

Twins starter Ervin Santana, meanwhile, battled some control issues but managed to limit the damage. The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning by striking out Sean Rodriguez. He left after two innings having given up two hits and two walks while striking out two.

"I feel good, but I was opening my left shoulder too quick after the first inning," Santana said. "So that's why I threw so many pitches. But it's nothing to worry about. In the next bullpen session, I'll be working on it, and everything will be fine."

Twins right-hander Jose Berrios, MLBPipeline.com's No. 33 overall prospect, followed Santana's outing with three scoreless innings of his own. Berrios -- a Puerto Rican native like Vargas and left fielder Eddie Rosario, who homered in the fifth -- gave up four singles and struck out two batters.

Up next: Right-hander Gerrit Cole will make his third start of the spring as the Pirates head to Fort Myers, Fla., to face the Red Sox on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET, live on Gameday Audio. Right-hander Henry Owens will get the start for Boston at JetBlue Park at Fenway South. Clayton Richard, Stolmy Pimentel, John Holdzkom and Brad Lincoln are also scheduled to pitch for the Bucs. Cole gave up one run on three hits and two walks while striking out two over three innings in his last start.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.