Mauer, Cuddyer go deep in Twins win
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Joe Mauer helped keep the early home run derby at Target Field going.
Mauer and Michael Cuddyer went deep for the Minnesota Twins in an 8-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday that wrapped up spring training for both teams.
David Freese homered for the Cardinals, who saw Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus hit back-to-back shots on Friday. Denard Span also went deep in the first game for the Twins, giving Minnesota's new ballpark six home runs in two games.
Coaches, players and club officials expect Target Field to play fair, without tilting toward bandbox or pitcher's park status. The distances to the outfield walls are similar to the Metrodome, which didn't end up favoring either side too strongly after developing an early reputation as the "Homerdome."
The wind currents, though, will take awhile to figure out.
"I wish we knew," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You see the flags blowing one way, and then you stand up there and the wind is hitting you another way. It ought to be entertaining."
For the second straight day, the weather was in full compliance for an outdoor game.
After a rainy Friday, the field dried up and allowed the first exhibition to start on time at 65 degrees before a twilight finish with wisps of sunlight streaming through the clouds.
On Saturday, it was a little cooler at 55, but blue sky and bright sun accompanied the paid crowd of 32,790 into the gates. An additional 7,000 complimentary tickets were distributed to construction workers and others who helped build the ballpark.
There were a few more Target Field firsts -- well, unofficial firsts, since this was still the exhibition season -- with the $184 million-man Mauer going deep into the spruce trees behind center field and the Twins taking batting and fielding practice on their new field for the first time.
Albert Pujols went 1 for 3 with a single against Twins starter Kevin Slowey, though the two outs were smashes to left field caught by Delmon Young.
Jason LaRue started at catcher for the Cardinals, a late addition to the lineup after being cleared after batting practice. He has been bothered by a bruised left hand. Starter Yadier Molina is working his way back from a strained muscle on his right side. Manager Tony La Russa wasn't ready before the game to speculate about their status for opening day.
Left-hander Jaime Garcia, a top prospect who missed most of last season recovering from elbow surgery, gave up eight hits and four runs in 5 1-3 innings over 88 pitches. LaRussa recently named him the fifth starter.
Jacque Jones got another hearty, extended ovation from Twins fans, taking his helmet off in appreciation before his pinch hit in the seventh inning. He got another single in the eighth.
New Twins closer Jon Rauch gave up a walk and a double to start the ninth, but a long fly to right by Freese stayed in the park and Rauch escaped with only one run allowed.
NOTES: The Cardinals extended "heartfelt condolences" to the family of minor league pitcher P.J. Walters in an announcement of the death of his newborn daughter, Annabelle. She died on Friday night. Walters was optioned to Triple-A Memphis earlier this week. ... After unveiling a statue of Rod Carew on the pedestrian plaza behind the right field gate on Friday, the Twins honored another of their Hall of Famers, Harmon Killebrew, with his own bronze likeness depicting his home run swing. "I thought maybe I'd gone to the great ballpark in the sky," Killebrew said, describing his impression of the stadium after his introduction. ... The Twins put reliever Clay Condrey on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow, after he pitched an inning in a minor league game. RH Alex Burnett was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take his place on the 25-man roster.