By Rhett Bollinger and Bryan Hoch
MLB.com |@BryanHoch |
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Left-hander Tommy Milone was solid in his final Grapefruit League tuneup, while Eduardo Escobar doubled and homered to help lead the Twins to a 3-1 win over the Yankees on Tuesday at Hammond Stadium.
Facing Masahiro Tanaka in the third inning, Escobar smoked a double down the right-field line, and he scored on Chris Herrmann's single to left field, sliding around the tag from catcher Austin Romine. Eric Fryer added an RBI single off Tanaka in the fourth before Escobar crushed a solo blast to right field off the Yankees' Opening Day starter in the fifth.
Tanaka's tuneup: Tanaka opted to make the 2 1/2-hour trip to Fort Myers rather than face a Minor League team at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, explaining that he wanted the intensity of facing a big league lineup. The Twins made plenty of solid contact against the right-hander, who was tuning up for his Opening Day assignment against the Blue Jays on April 6.
Tanaka threw 76 pitches (56 for strikes) and permitted seven hits over 4 1/3 innings, including a homer, to finish the spring with a 3.07 ERA. Most importantly to the Yankees, he finished it healthy and with no setbacks after sustaining a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament last July. In 14 2/3 spring innings, Tanaka gave up five earned runs and 13 hits, with one walk, 13 strikeouts and two homers.
Milone makes final start of spring: Milone was named the club's fifth starter on Saturday, and he finished his spring with an impressive showing against the Yankees. The lefty gave up one run on six hits over six innings to finish with a 3.60 ERA this spring. His next start is expected to come against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on April 10.
"Tommy did well," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "He kind of minimized damage when he did have a little bit of difficulty. When he missed, he didn't miss by much. He was around the plate all day with all of his pitches."
Flores, Martin impress Yankees:Ramon Flores has shown enough pop to convince the Yankees that he could play a role with the club as a callup later this season. The outfielder continued to make a good impression, lining a sharp fourth-inning single to left that knocked in Chris Young with New York's first run of the afternoon. Meanwhile, Chris Martin retired all six batters he faced, striking out three. Manager Joe Girardi was impressed by the outing, saying that Martin showed a "good downhill angle, good breaking ball -- really good."
Escobar has another big day at the plate: Twins manager Terry Ryan praised Escobar before the game, saying he's been the club's best hitter this spring, and the shortstop proved it again with another strong day offensively. Escobar doubled and homered off Tanaka, and he is now tied for the team lead in homers this spring with four. So while Escobar lost out on the starting shortstop job to Danny Santana, Molitor is going to try to find him consistent at-bats this season as a super-utility player after he hit .274 with 35 doubles as the club's regular shortstop last year.
"Paul is going to be certainly challenged to get him the at-bats he warrants. Some days you're going to see him at third, short, second, maybe DH and left field. So he's going to try to spread the wealth, and it's a good problem for us to have." -- Ryan, on Molitor finding at-bats for Escobar
"It was a success personally, especially coming off last year when I didn't do well at all coming over here. It's kind of nice to have success here and show them that I am the pitcher they traded for. But the job is not over. I have to keep it up."-- Milone, on winning the fifth-starter competition
The Yankees return home to George M. Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday, hosting the Rays for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest, which can be seen live on MLB.TV. Right-hander Chase Whitley will make his seventh spring appearance (second start) for the Yanks, as he continues to battle for a spot on the big league roster. Left-hander Jordan Norberto gets the nod for Tampa Bay.
The Twins finish up Spring Training with four straight games against the Red Sox, with the first of those on Wednesday at 12:05 p.m. CT at Hammond Stadium. Right-hander Phil Hughes, who will be the club's Opening Day starter against the Tigers on April 6, will make his final start of the spring. Relievers Glen Perkins, Casey Fien and Tim Stauffer are also scheduled to see action.