FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Michael Wacha gave up one run over two innings in his first start of the exhibition season as the St. Louis Cardinals beat a Minnesota Twins’ split squad 5-3 Tuesday.
A right-hander who led the Cardinals with 17 wins last season, Wacha allowed singles to Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar starting the first. Joe Mauer followed with a run-scoring, double-play grounder. Wacha gave up two hits in all.
“Everything I saw looked good,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “He had the velocity. He had the tilt. The changeup was a little hard early, and he got better as he went — breaking ball was there and the cutter. Good outing for him.”
Ricky Nolasco, competing for a spot in the Twins rotation, gave up three hits in three scoreless innings, struck out four and hit a batter,
“He used a good mix of pitches,” said Twins bench coach Joe Vavra, acting as the manager while Paul Molitor accompanying the other squad to Dunedin to face the Blue Jays. “He kept the ball down for the most part. He elevated when he need to. I thought he competed and that’s the bottom line. When he got himself in trouble he made pitches. So for him it’s all about competition and competing and getting in his mix. So I thought it was pretty good.”
Anthony Garcia hit the Cardinals’ first home run of spring training, a two-run drive in the sixth against Logan Darnell.
Aledmys Diaz had four hits and two RBIs for the Cardinals.
“Took some good at-bats,” Matheny said. “Came out swinging right from his first at-bat. Made some good adjustments. They tried to go soft on him and he still put together good at-bats. Overall, just a good day. I like what he’s doing”
Cardinals: Wacha threw 28 pitches. he had not pitched in a game since losing to the Chicago Cubs in the NL Division Series. He threw 28 pitches.
“I was expecting that kind of pitch count,” Wacha said. “Just wanted to go back out there in the second inning and keep attacking the zone, filling up the strike zone with quality pitches. I ended up getting the strikeout, a couple groundouts there as well.
Twins: Assisted by two double plays, the outing was an improvement for Nolasco over his first start, when he gave up three runs in 1 1/3 innings to the Red Sox on Thursday.
“I felt good both times out,” Nolasco said. “Just got to be a little harder on myself putting guys away. Maybe I was trying to do a little too much whereas when they got back even in the count I made the pitch I needed to make that I just couldn’t make before.”
Cardinals: Catcher Yadier Molina hit off a tee and could start Wednesday against the Marlins. Molina is expected to work behind the plate but not hit.
Twins: Shortstop Eduardo Escobar, on third base after hitting a one-out trip in the eighth, left the game after getting hit in the right forearm by a foul line drive off the bat of Reynaldo Rodriguez. Escobar, who had two hits, walked off the field on his own and is not expected to miss any time.
“Escobar is fine,” Vavra said. “He came up smiling like he usually does, so that was a good thing.”
Catcher Stuart Turner, who is day to day with a sore back, hit off a tee.
Cardinals: RHP Mike Leake is scheduled to make his first appearance of spring training Wednesday when the Cardinals host Miami.
Twins: LHP Tommy Milone is to start when Minnesota hosts Philadelphia.
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