Despite giving up three home runs in his last start, starting pitcher Phil Hughes still struck out four batters in five innings and came away with the no decision.
And yet I singled out his tendency to give up the long ball in a recent post.
But he improved on that previous effort by shutting out the Tampa Bay Rays over five innings on Friday, with the same number of strikeouts. He also limited the Rays to two hits and lowered his spring ERA to 4.50. Hughes appears headed in the right direction after his early struggles last season, followed by the decision to have season-ending surgery to remove a rib. The Twins could sure benefit from something approaching his 2014 season, in which he logged nearly 200 innings and won 16 games.
Impressive 5 innings for Phil Hughes: 2 hits, 1 walk, 4 K, 0 runs, never >1 runner an inning. FB 88-90. 57 pitches, throwing ~20 more in pen
— Phil Miller (@MillerStrib) March 17, 2017
-Will Kennys Vargas make the Twins? He has done little during spring training, but has done a whole lot more for Puerto Rico during the World Baseball Classic, including Saturday’s 13-2 win over Venezuela. In that game, Vargas had two hits, including a home run. He also scored three runs, drew one walk and struck out three times in five at bats. He’s hitting .400 during the classic, but is hitting only .077 with the Twins. His likely competition to make the team is Byung Ho Park, who is having a strong spring. Park is hitting .387 and leads the Twins with 12 hits.
-The Twins’ Ervin Santana, pitching for the Dominican Republic, lost to team USA on Saturday during the World Baseball Classic. Santana gave up four earned runs over three-plus innings, including a home run to Giancarlo Stanton. The final was 6-3. He exited with an ERA of 9.82, yet back in Fort Myers, Florida, he has yet to give up an earned run.