Martinez bolsters rotation case with start vs. Twins
Right-hander allows one run over 5 1/3 innings; Adams hits solo homer in fifth
JUPITER, Fla. -- Three pitchers battling for rotation spots took the mound in Wednesday's game between the Twins and Cardinals. The first two -- Minnesota's Kyle Gibson and St. Louis' Carlos Martinez -- each gave up one run in their respective starts. The Cards then jumped on the other fifth-starter candidate, Samuel Deduno, for a two-run eighth, which lifted St. Louis to a 3-1 win at Roger Dean Stadium.
Deduno entered the game in the sixth inning with the scored tied and had another chance to build his case for the Twins' final rotation spot. He retired six straight before Peter Bourjos led off the eighth with a double. A sacrifice bunt and wild pitch pushed the go-ahead run across for the Cardinals.
Randal Grichuk then knocked Deduno out of the game with a two-out RBI double off the left-field wall. Pat Neshek, making his first Grapefruit League appearance since the birth of his son on Thursday, came on in the ninth to pick up his first save of the spring.
"It's been hard because he's been a kid who wants to come in here and prove what he can do and make a club, but his attention needs to be back there [with his family]," manager Mike Matheny said. "That can sometimes make it tough to go back and forth. ... We knew he wasn't going to lose what he was doing here, but that's tough on your mind because you have to be right when you get on the mound. That just shows, I think, his toughness."
St. Louis had jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning on a solo homer by Matt Adams. The blast, Adams' second this spring, was all that marred Gibson's fourth spring appearance.
Gibson, a former University of Missouri standout and one of four pitchers vying for Minnesota's final rotation spot, threw 45 of his 73 pitches for strikes in his 4 1/3-inning start. He scattered four hits, the last of which Adams drove over the right-field wall.
Martinez, also making a pitch for a starting job, was just as good. He allowed one hit through the first five innings before the Twins pushed across a run in the sixth. Aaron Hicks dropped a single into center field with one out and scored on Jason Bartlett's single.
The hit was Bartlett's first in Grapefruit League play this spring. He had been 0-for-26.
That marked the end of the day for Martinez, who left after throwing 81 pitches (56 strikes) in 5 1/3 innings. The outing was the longest of the spring for a Cards pitcher, matching Saturday's performance from Joe Kelly. Martinez has allowed three runs in 15 1/3 spring innings and had a 14-inning scoreless streak snapped by Bartlett's RBI hit. Martinez also struck out four.
Lefty Sam Freeman stranded two runners as he finished the sixth for Martinez. Randy Choate, Seth Maness and Neshek followed with scoreless appearances.
Up next: Lance Lynn will make his fourth appearance of the spring when he starts against the Marlins on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05 p.m. CT (watch the game on MLB.TV). Closer Trevor Rosenthal and left-handed setup man Kevin Siegrist are also slated to pitch in the game.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.