March Madness

Twins Spring Training

So much for staying home.

Even with March Madness in full swing, the Twins still draw a big crowd. The second-largest ever, in fact.

When the Cardinals were here Tuesday, a record 8,134 fans filled Hammond Stadium. There were 8,122 today.

For the season, Minnesota has drawn 66.468 fans for spring training games. The club is on pace to shatter last season's 121,574 total attendance figure.

As far as the game goes, the Twins get one in the seventh and two in the eighth to make it five wins in six games. Baltimore's only two runs come in the first.

Hit of the day goes to Garrett Jones, who struck for a two-run double in the eighth for the lead. It was his second double of spring training, but just his fourth hit.

MINNESOTA 4, BALTIMORE 2

W: Neshek (2-0), L: Hoey (0-1); 2B: Dubois, BAL (1), Jones, MINN (2).

***

Baltimore 2, Minnesota 1; top of the fifth

We're cruising right along. Ortiz looked strong, despite giving up two runs in the first. Neither was earned.

Nice effort, too, by O's lefty Adam Loewen. He only gave up one run through the first three innings, before Michael Cuddyer homered to right-center with one out in the fourth.

Cuddyer is the hottest hitter on the Twins roster. The cleanup man was batting .400 at the start of the day with five doubles and one home run.

Tommy Watkins, the Fort Myers product, continues to shine. He rebounded from a throwing error in the first by laying out to grab a third-inning pop-up in shallow right field.

The fans here love him.

Glen Perkins is on to pitch the fifth. He is another kind of hometown favorite, a Twin Cities native who attended the University of Minnesota.

***

Tough choice for local Twins to make: Sit inside on the couch watching March Madness unfold, or make it out to the ballpark for today's matchup with the Orioles.

But you can watch the NCAA Tournament anywhere ... even in frigid Minnesota. It is 78 degrees here with a nice breeze blowing, the picture of spring training baseball.

The Twins are working this afternoon on short rest ... and then some. The team played a night game in Tampa last night, falling to the Yankees in a 4-1 decision.

Ramon Ortiz is on the hill today. He has been one of the most impressive arms thus far, pitching well enough to become the front-runner for the No. 2 spot in the starting rotation.

The Orioles are taking BP as the fans trickle in. We'll see how March Madness affects attendance.

Here are the lineups:

BAL: CF Stern, SS Gomez, DH Markakis, 1B Huff, RF Payton, 3B Tiffee, LF DuBois, 2B Bynum, C Donachie, LHP Loewen.

MINN: DH Cirillo, 3B Punto, C Redmond, RF Cuddyer, 1B Morneau, CF Hunter, LF Rabe, 2B Watkins, SS Casilla, RHP Ortiz.

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