Longoria Homers, Balfour Perfect, Rays Top Twins
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer and Grant Balfour was perfect in his first appearance in a Tampa Bay uniform since 2010, helping the Rays beat the Minnesota Twins 6-3 on Sunday.
Jerry Sands also homered for the Rays, who got a quick third inning from Balfour, as well as 1 2-3 scoreless innings from starter Alex Cobb.
“I’ll take a one-two-three, 12 pitches every day. It definitely went well,” said Balfour, who’s back with the Rays in a closer’s role after converting 62 of 67 saves opportunities for the Oakland Athletics over the past two seasons.
The right-hander pitched three seasons for Tampa Bay during a previous stint, contributing to the team’s improbable run to the World Series in 2008. He signed a $12 million, two-year contract in January after a deal he had in place with the Baltimore Orioles fell through this winter.
Offseason acquisition Ricky Nolasco allowed two hits in two scoreless innings for the Twins, who signed him to a $49 million, four-year deal this winter and are counting on the right-hander to help bolster a struggling pitching staff that posted a major league-worst 5.26 ERA last season.
“It’s good to get a little adrenalin going and kind of get into a game atmosphere. I thought it went OK,” Nolasco said. “I’m not going to judge anything. I know it’s spring training. You go and just keep doing your repetitions.”
Oswaldo Arcia and Brandon Waring hit solo homers for the Twins. Waring’s shot was a mammoth drive that struck the roof of an island-themed bar and gathering spot beyond the left-centerfield wall.
“He killed that ball. He hit it a long way,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He hit it right to the Tiki Hut, right where I wanted to be all day.”
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