Arroyo throws 7 shutout innings, as Cincinnati beats Twins 5-1

Minnesota was only able to put up three hits on Arroyo in seven innings.

>SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) – Bronson Arroyo approached his final spring game as if it mattered, then went out and pitched like it Thursday, throwing seven shutout innings during the Cincinnati Reds’ 5-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

Arroyo finished his solid spring training by giving up only three hits in seven innings. He didn’t walk a batter, and threw 65 strikes out of his 89 pitches.

Facing an American League team, he was able to show his stuff.

“It’s a team I don’t have to see during the season, so I could pitch like it was the first game of the season and just throw 100 percent,” said Arroyo, who gave up only 12 hits and two walks in 19 innings this spring. “This is probably the best I’ve ever felt in spring by far. My body’s where it needs to be; my stuff’s there, I feel strong.”

Manager Dusty Baker raved about the way his No. 2 starter threw strikes with every type of pitch.

“Oh, man, he really had it going,” Baker said. “He had all his pitches going. That’s midseason form right there. His breaking ball was working, he had good location on his fastball. He threw the ball great.”

Ken Griffey Jr. hit his second homer of spring training, a two-run shot off reliever Jesse Crain in the sixth inning.

Right-hander Nick Blackburn gave up three hits and one run in five innings, an encouraging showing for a Minnesota rotation that might need him.

The Twins aren’t sure whether left-hander Francisco Liriano, who missed last season after elbow surgery, will be on the roster to open the season. Blackburn is the likely replacement if Liriano isn’t ready.

The club will make a decision after it sees how Liriano looks in his start Friday against Pittsburgh.

“Once we get past tomorrow, we’re going to weigh all those things,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We like (Blackburn’s) arm. That’s why we have him in camp. We’re trying to get them ready no matter where they pitch.”