Ohlendorf excels in first Grapefruit League start
Tabata records three singles as Pirates falter against Twins
BRADENTON, Fla. -- A pair of two-out RBI doubles by Danny Valencia highlighted the Twins' 4-2 victory over the Pirates at McKechnie Field on Wednesday afternoon in the first of four spring meetings between the two clubs.
Valencia, who is now 4-for-7 this spring, connected for his first extra-base hit off Pirates starter Ross Ohlendorf in the first inning. Ben Revere scored easily after walking and advancing to second on a passed ball earlier in the frame.
Valencia doubled home Trevor Plouffe two innings later to extend Minnesota's lead.
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It took the Pirates five innings to get on the scoreboard, despite having a number of chances early. Twins starter Brian Duensing kept Pittsburgh in check for the first two innings, allowing two hits with two strikeouts in his spring debut, which came just hours after manager Ron Gardenhire hinted that the left-hander has already secured a job in the Twins' rotation.
"I felt good -- a little out of sync, a little tired towards the end, but that's to be expected this time of year," Duensing said. "I threw all of my pitches. I just really tried to focus on the fastball and changeup, two staples. Not try to get fancy right away."
After scoreless innings from relievers Matt Capps and Pat Neshek, the Pirates jumped on Phil Dumatrait in the fifth. Andrew Lambo collected his first hit of the spring and scored when Jose Tabata followed with a single to center. Tabata finished the game 3-for-3, all singles.
Ohlendorf hit his pitch count before he was able to finish his scheduled two innings, thought he was still pleased with how his first outing went. Relying heavily on sliders and fastballs, Ohlendorf struck out four in his 1 2/3 innings on the mound, yielding the one unearned run off Valencia's double.
"I felt really good with how I was throwing," Ohlendorf said. "My arm feels really good. Right now, to me, that's the most important thing. I was really happy with it."
Right-hander Michael Crotta was efficient in his two innings for Pittsburgh. He did not allow a run and worked around a two-out hit in each frame.
Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan did not fare as well in his second spring appearance. Twins infielder Luke Hughes greeted Hanrahan with a solo homer to lead off the sixth. Hanrahan rebounded to retire the next two batters, but he was chased from the game after allowing the following three hitters to reach.
Up next for the Twins: Minnesota makes its first trip to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Fla., on Thursday for a 1:05 p.m. contest against the Orioles. Carl Pavano is slated to make his second start of the spring against Baltimore lefty Brian Matusz. After appearing in two games at second base, Tsuyoshi Nishioka is expected to make his first start at shortstop. Alexi Casilla will play second.
Up next for the Pirates: Pittsburgh makes its first of two trips to Dunedin, Fla., the spring home of the Blue Jays, for a 1:05 p.m. ET game on Thursday. After a successful first Grapefruit League outing, Charlie Morton returns to the mound for a scheduled three-inning start in the contest. He'll be followed by Brad Lincoln, who, like Morton, is in competition for the Pirates' final open rotation spot. Brett Cecil is scheduled to start for Toronto.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.