Twins top Tampa Bay as Dobnak pitches three scoreless innings

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Phil Miller, Star Tribune
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Randy Dobnak struck out six of the 10 batters he faced on Saturday, and declared that his new identity. "I'm actually a strikeout guy now," said the (former?) ground-ball specialist. "New year, new me."

New pitch, actually. Dobnak experimented with a new wrist action and release for his slider, a variation that's been in his pitch repertoire for all of nine days now. "Do you like it?" he asked rhetorically, clearly satisfied with his new weapon.

Dobnak pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, and the Twins shut down Tampa Bay 1-0 in eight innings at Charlotte Sports Park.

Willians Astudillo belted a 3-2 pitch from Rays rookie righthander Shane Baz over the left-field fence to open the seventh inning, breaking up the scoreless tie and giving Twins pitching all the cushion they needed. It was Astudillo's first home run of the spring.

The Twins struck out 13 Rays, allowed just two singles and walked only one, and no Tampa Bay hitter reached second base all day. Reliever candidates Brandon Waddell, a lefthander, and righthander Derek Law struck out all three hitters they faced.

The Twins didn't do much better against former teammate Rich Hill, who threw three scoreless innings, and five relievers. They struck out seven times and collected only four hits, Astudillo's the only one that mattered.

The Red Sox visit Hammond Stadium on Sunday for a noon game that will not be televised in Minneapolis.

Phil Miller • 612-673-7011