Willingham's bat starts spring in midseason form
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Trayvon Robinson's two-run homer in the eighth inning gave the O's a 5-3 victory over the Twins in Saturday's Grapefruit League opener at Ed Smith Stadium, which featured a moment of silence and video tribute for Orioles great Earl Weaver, who passed away last month at age 82.
The Orioles' first run of the spring was scored by catcher Matt Wieters, who doubled to open the second inning off Twins starter Kevin Correia. Wieters moved to third on Chris Davis' infield hit and shortstop -- and former Twin -- J.J. Hardy brought him home with a sacrifice fly.
Orioles lefty Zach Britton had a scoreless spring debut, facing five batters in a 19-pitch first inning.
"I haven't pitched in Spring Training in a whole year," said Britton, who started last year on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury. "It's nice to get out there. I felt pretty good. You build off this one and go get 'em the next time."
Correia went two innings, allowing a run on two hits and a walk.
"It was good," Correia said. "I got out there and got my feet wet in a real game. ... I was around the plate, for the most part. I threw every pitch I have, so I got around to it. I had a quick first inning, but I had a little more opportunity in the second inning to throw more pitches."
The Twins took the lead on a two-run homer by Josh Willingham off right-hander Tommy Hunter in the third inning. Hunter gave up a leadoff double to Darin Mastroianni in the 25-pitch frame.
Willingham finished the day 2-for-2, with his other hit being a first-inning single.
Baltimore struck back in the fifth. Manny Machado led off with a single and took second on Chris Dickerson's sacrifice bunt. After Jonathan Schoop walked, Nate McLouth doubled to right to plate Machado. Schoop was thrown out at the plate trying to score on the play, leaving the game deadlocked at 2.
Minnesota regained the lead in the sixth. Eddie Rosario started things off with a single to left off T.J. McFarland. After advancing to second on Chris Herrmann's walk, Rosario moved to third on James Beresford's double-play groundout. Clete Thomas followed with an infield single to score Rosario, and advanced to second on a throwing error by Schoop.
Schoop drew the O's even in the seventh with an RBI single to left that drove in Yamaico Navarro, who reached on a one-out double.
Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, coming off of season-ending hip surgery, grounded out in each of his two at-bats. Jake Arrieta followed Britton and threw 11 pitches, including seven strikes, finishing up in the bullpen to get his pitch count around 30. Arrieta issued a two-out walk to Drew Butera for the lone runner in his frame, with Steve Johnson allowing a two-out free pass in a scoreless fourth. Britton, Arrieta, Hunter and Johnson are all vying for rotation spots in a tough camp competition that has a dozen candidates.
Twins Rule 5 Draft pick Ryan Pressly looked sharp in his debut with a 1-2-3 third against Roberts, McLouth and Nick Markakis.
Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning in his spring debut. Bundy struck out Mastroianni on three pitches to start things off, and allowed a broken-bat single to Eduardo Escobar and a single to right by Brandon Boggs. After Ryan Doumit popped out, pinch-hitter Brian Dinkleman worked a two-out, full-count walk, before Bundy fanned Chris Colabello on a called strike three. Bundy's fastball was routinely in the 93-94-mph range according to the stadium's radar gun.
Up next for the Twins: The Twins are set to host their Hammond Stadium opener against the Rays on Sunday, with right-hander Liam Hendriks on the mound. Catcher Joe Mauer and first baseman Justin Morneau, who didn't make the trip to Sarasota on Saturday, are also expected to make their Grapefruit League debuts. The Twins are also scheduled to host an intrasquad game on Sunday morning that will feature several younger players and prospects -- such as Alex Meyer, Trevor May, B.J. Hermsen and Jose Berrios.