FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Mike Pelfrey struck out four in three scoreless innings and the Minnesota Twins beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-1 on Tuesday.
Pelfrey allowed just two hits and first baseman Joe Mauer went 2 for 3 with an RBI, raising his spring average to .306. Trevor Plouffe went 2 for 3 with an RBI and scored a run.
Steve Clevenger, who will be Baltimore’s backup catcher, started and went 3 for 3, scoring his team’s lone run. He is hitting .484 this spring.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire used three potential starting pitchers against the Orioles a day after a rainout. Kyle Gibson pitched three shutout innings, striking out one and giving up two hits. Scott Diamond gave up one run off two hits while striking out one in three innings.
Gibson and Diamond are competing for the Twins’ fifth rotation spot.
Orioles: Bud Norris, in line to be Baltimore’s fourth or fifth starting pitcher, struck out two, walked one and gave up two earned runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.
“A little windy, so you really have to control your body out there,” Norris said. “I felt I did a really good job of pounding the strike zone. Steve called a great game. We’re on the same page.”
Twins: Pelfrey has had a strong spring in his second season removed from Tommy John surgery and has one more start remaining before the Twins head north. He had a 5-13 record with a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts last season, a predictably up-and-down performance in his first year back from elbow surgery.
“Everybody always says that the second year is the year,” Pelfrey said. “Hopefully I have a good year this year. I think maybe I probably did too much trying to come back last year.”
Twins starting pitchers Scott Diamond and Kyle Gibson have been competing for the fifth and final spot in Minnesota’s rotation. Gibson, a first-round draft pick out of Missouri in 2009, appeared to get the upper hand Tuesday, striking out one in three scoreless innings to lower his spring ERA to 2.20.
Gibson had a 2-4 record with a 5.63 ERA in 10 starts last season, his first coming back from Tommy John surgery.
“Gibby’s been great,” Gardenhire said. “He has been great all through camp. I haven’t seen any problems with the young man. The ball is coming out of his hand really nice.”
Diamond gave up one run off two hits and struck out one in three innings and has a 5.29 ERA this spring. The left-hander went 6-13 with a 5.43 ERA in 24 starts last season.
Gibson said his confidence has increased from a year ago.
“Competition makes everybody better,” Gibson said. “We’re all good friends, and we all enjoy being teammates. At the end of the day, we also know there’s not enough room for everybody. That’s just kind of the reality of the business side of it. I’ve always just wanted to throw the ball well and make the decision difficult for the front office.”
Baltimore infielder Michael Almanzar, a Rule 5 draft pick from the Boston Red Sox, has patella tendinitis in his left knee and might start the season on the disabled list, manager Buck Showalter said.
LOCKED IN: Baltimore lefty Wei-Yin Chen will start the season’s third game against Boston on April 3. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 6.39 ERA in four outings this spring.
Showalter also said he informed infielder Ryan Flaherty that he has made the big league club. Flaherty has hit .310 with two home runs and six RBIs in 16 spring training games.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)