FORT MYERS, Fla. — Trevor Plouffe had two hits and two RBIs as the Minnesota Twins beat a Pittsburgh Pirates split squad 3-0 on Saturday.
Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson went six innings, allowing three hits with no walks and eight strikeouts.
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"I think he pitched really well," manager Paul Molitor said. "I don’t think he felt overly comfortable with his fastball today. He used it. I don’t think he had the command that he would like to have. But he made the adjustment with his off-speed pitches."
Pittsburgh’s Kyle Lobstein went four innings, giving up two runs on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts.
Plouffe’s two-run single in the fourth inning scored Brian Dozier, who opened the inning with a single, and Miguel Sano, who hit a one-out double. Plouffe has a team-high 14 RBIs this spring in 14 games.
"You want to see guys putting good swings on the ball, especially when they are in hitters’ counts and pitches they can handle," Molitor said. "And he’s been doing that pretty well the last week."
The Twins added a run in the seventh when Eddie Rosario tripled and scored on Eduardo Escobar’s double off Rob Scahill.
Pittsburgh’s Cory Luebke pitched one scoreless inning, allowing one hit. A first-round pick in 2007 by the Padres, the left-hander has not pitched in the majors since 2012 because of injuries, including two Tommy John surgeries. He is competing for a spot in the Pirates’ bullpen, a role he last held in 2011.
"I enjoy it," Luebke said. "Starting, obviously everybody likes the routine and the schedule. But the adrenaline that comes with throwing out if the pen, hearing the phone ringing and having to get going, it’s fun. It takes you back to when you were younger and all that matters was, hey, you’re in."
Pirates: Lobstein also is competing for a spot in the Pittsburgh bullpen. This was his fifth appearance and third start this spring. The two runs he allowed are the first he’s given up in 11 total innings on seven hits, three walks and eight strikeouts.
Twins: Gibson will start the second game of the season, following Ervin Santana in Baltimore. He is scheduled to start the home opener against the White Sox on April 11.
"It’s going to be a lot of fun," he said. "I’ve never done it obviously, but I’m looking forward to it. I think Twins fans are pretty excited about this year coming up and it’s going to be pretty cool to be part of those festivities on the mound and hopefully being the guy that has a good solid start in the first home game and gets us set up for another successful year at home."
Pirates: Center fielder Andrew McCutchen was scratched from Friday’s game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers because of tightness in his left quad. He is in the lineup for the Pirates’ split-squad game Saturday night against the Rays. … First baseman Michael Morse tweaked his right hamstring in Thursday’s game but said it was nothing serious.
The Twins made a series of roster moves before the game. Catcher John Hicks was optioned to Triple-A Rochester and left-hander Dan Runzler, catcher Juan Centeno, infielder James Beresford and outfielders Darin Mastroianni and Carlos Quentin were reassigned to minor league camp.
Pirates: Juan Nicasio looks to continue his stellar spring on Sunday when Pittsburgh hosts the Baltimore Orioles. In five outings spanning 15 innings, Nicasio has not allowed a run. Ubaldo Jimenez is scheduled to start for Baltimore.
Twins: Phil Hughes gets the start when Minnesota travels to Tampa to face the Yankees on Sunday. Hughes, who will start the third game of the regular season, gave up four runs on nine hits with no walks and nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings in his last start. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi will start for New York.