Polanco goes yard as Twins beat Sox

March 2nd, 2016
Blake Swihart tags out Wilfredo Tovar, who tried to score on a dribbler back to the mound in the fourth. (Getty)

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Backed by two strong innings from ace Phil Hughes and a two-run homer by prospect Jorge Polanco, the Twins downed the Red Sox, 7-4, on Wednesday afternoon at JetBlue Park in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams.

Hughes faced the minimum of six batters while throwing 20 pitches. He gave up a single to Hanley Ramirez in the second that was quickly erased by a double-play ball by Pablo Sandoval.

"It was good," Hughes said. "It felt like I was around the zone with pretty much everything. I threw a couple curveballs, a couple cutters. I think it was 20 pitches, so there's not too much to talk about, but I was around the plate and executed a couple pitches."

Red Sox lefty Henry Owens, hoping to win the fifth spot in the rotation, wiggled out of trouble over two scoreless innings. Owens allowed two hits and two walks while striking out five. He threw 46 pitches.

"I felt good. First time out, I just wanted to set the tone. A lot of guys got here early and have been working hard," said Owens. "It's good to get Spring Training going."

Byung Ho Park, the slugger the Twins signed out of Korea over the winter, had a tough debut, striking out in his first three at-bats and leaving six men on base.

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the fourth on an RBI single to by Byron Buxton. Polanco, who is No. 97 in MLB.com's prospect rankings, hammered a two-run shot to right in the fifth after ripping a double in the second.

Jackie Bradley Jr. went 2-for-2 for the Red Sox and made a fine running catch in the gap in left-center.

Josh Rutledge and Marco Hernandez each notched RBI singles in the eighth inning off Mike Strong to get Boston on the scoreboard.

Up next for the Twins: Right-hander Tyler Duffey makes his first Grapefruit League start in the home opener for the Twins against the Red Sox at Hammond Stadium on Thursday at 6:05 p.m. CT on MLB.TV. Duffey was in big league camp last year, but he never saw action in an official Spring Training game. He'll be piggybacked by veteran right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who is competing for the final spot in the rotation with Tommy Milone, Trevor May and Jose Berrios.

Up next for the Red Sox: Veteran righty Rick Porcello, coming off a strong finish to last season, gets the ball in Thursday night's road game (7:05 p.m. ET) against the Twins. Outfielder Rusney Castillo will see his first action of Spring Training, while Brock Holt, Travis Shaw and Ryan Hanigan will also make the trip. First baseman Sam Travis and righty reliever Pat Light are a couple of prospects who will see action.