Second baseman homers; Right-hander tosses four scoreless innings in tie
By Andrew Simon
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Brian Dozier continued his hot spring with a two-run home run, as the Twins and Cardinals played to a 6-6 tie at Hammond Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Starting pitcher Kyle Gibson put together his best Grapefruit League outing for Minnesota, tossing four scoreless innings. In his third start, Gibson gave up two hits, hit one batter, struck out four and got seven of his other eight outs via the ground ball, including a double play.
"It's Spring Training for both of us, so I'm just trying to execute pitches, really," said Gibson. "I'm not going to be mad if I get some more swings and misses. Then I don't have to answer the questions about why I don't get strikeouts. But it is what it is.
"As long as I'm executing down in the zone, the swings and misses will come. You can't get strikeouts unless you get to two strikes, and I think that was something I struggled with last year. So the more 0-2, 1-2 counts you see me in, you're probably going to see more strikeouts."
The Cardinals put together their only threat against Gibson in the third, getting back-to-back one out singles by Tony Cruz and Pete Kozma. But Gibson struck out Peter Bourjos and induced a harmless fly ball from Kolten Wong.
St. Louis starter Carlos Martinez, a candidate for the No. 5 spot in the team's rotation, retired the first six batters he faced before issuing a leadoff walk in the third. After Eddie Rosario narrowly beat out a potential double-play ball, he scored on Jordan Schafer's ringing double that one-hopped the wall in right-center field. Dozier followed by jumping on a high fastball and launching it well over the left-field wall for his second homer of the spring, making him 7-for-14 in Grapefruit League play.
Martinez then failed to finish the fourth inning after retiring the first batter. Torii Hunter walked, Trevor Plouffe doubled him to third, and Kurt Suzuki doubled home both with a bouncer that cleared third baseman Scott Moore. Randy Choate then relieved Martinez, who was charged with five runs on four hits over 3 1/3 innings, with two walks and one strikeout.
Cody Stanley added a solo homer in the seventh and Ed Easley had an RBI single in the eighth for the Cardinals, who then tied it in the ninth on a Dean Anna sacrifice fly. Kozma went 3-for-4 for St. Louis.
The Twins almost won it in the bottom of the ninth on a single to left by James Beresford, but Rafael Ortega threw out Eduardo Nunez trying to score from second to end the game.
Up Next: On Monday, the Twins will enjoy their first day off since Grapefruit League play began, and their last until April 5, the day before Opening Day at Detroit. They return to action on Tuesday in Sarasota, Fla., against the Orioles at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. Right-hander Phil Hughes is set to make his third start of the spring and first since the Marlins hammered him for four runs in 1 2/3 innings on Thursday. Righties Mark Hamburger and Blaine Boyer, both non-roster bullpen candidates, are slated to follow in relief, along with lefty Brian Duensing.
Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.