And it really couldn't have been a more complete win than this.
I'm not sure how the Twins could have made this any better than they did. The offense worked Jon Lester and gave Carl Pavano an early lead, they ran well on the bases, the defense made a couple of nice plays and they won. For the first time in 29 years, the Twins won a home game. Outdoors.
Dick and Bert had fun with this one. There was the obviously annoying conversation with Bud Selig, where he tried to play nice even though he knows and we all know he's going to have a hard time being forgiven in Minnesota given all that contraction jibber jabber ten years ago. There was also the "interview" with Jim Pohlad. I say "interview" because no matter how Dick led him into a conversation he was met with nothing but silence.
Dick: Target Field is Minnesota. Lots of Minnesota products and businesses, Minnesota food...[Looks to Jim, handing over the opportunity to talk about the positives of Target Field]
There were only two responses Dick and Bert forced from Pohlad. One was in resonse to a question on whether or not building Target Field made him a bigger baseball fan, to which he said "no". The other was in response to a question on whether Target Field helped them to sign Joe Mauer, to which is said "no".
I'm not being harsh on the guy, because he's not really had to deal with a lot of this kind of thing in the past, but you have to admit--it was pretty funny. It was a terrible "interview".
This is the first time I've ever seen the Twins play a meaningful home game outdoors. And that's true for an entire generation (or two) of Twins fans. I grew up understanding that baseball was an outdoors game, but it came as a revelation to me when, in 2005, I saw my first Major League Baseball game...outdoors. At Yankee Stadium. The Metrodome is all I've known of Twins basball...it's where all the memories of my childhood heroes take place. So yeah, in a bizarre way, the Dome will always hold a special place for me, but this is just so, SO much better. Baseball belongs outdoors. I feel lucky to have been able to watch this game today, even from halfway across the world.
Today was a big day in Twins Territory. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
More on the game after the jump.
As I said, it would have been difficult for the Twins to put together a more complete game than they did. Pavano was a great choice to open Target Field, as he was a consumate professional this afternoon. There's a lot of pressure on teams opening up new ballparks, and a lot of that gets focused onto the starting pitcher. Pavano handled it well, settled in quickly and kept the Red Sox pretty quiet.
He allowed a pair of hits in the first inning, one of which was erased when Pavano caught Marco Scutaro as he tried to swipe second base. After that, Pavano allowed just two more hits on the afternoon, and in conjunction with a single walk held Boston to one run over six innings. The scariest moment for him was in the sixth, as he bare-handed a bouncing grounder for the second out of the inning. Trainers checked him out but he was fine. Pavano finished the inning, and that was the end of his day having thrown 95 pitches.
At the plate, the Twins worked Lester's control problems to their advantage. Denard Span and Delmon Young earned early walks, although only Span would score on his. Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel hit back-to-back singles with two outs in the first to score him and Orlando Hudson. Joe Mauer knocked in a run in the second and fourth innings. With an early lead and Pavano on his game, this one never looked in doubt.
With a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh, Jason Kubel launched the first home run in Target Field. At least, the first home run that counts. Red Sox reliever Scott Atchinson, who I'd never heard of and had been pitching in Japan, had looked good on the hill. He'd struck out Mauer and, in general, looked as though he had the left-handed Twins hitters tied up with his inside cutter. Kubel was no exception...until Atchinson left just one pitch up in the zone.
Dick and Bert were all about their future trivia answers today. First base hit? Marco Scutaro. First caught stealing? Marco Scutaro. First Twins hit? Orlando Hudson. First stolen base? Nick Punto. First Homer? Jason Kubel. It was a huge shot into right field; it was gone when it left the bat. Congratulations, Patches.
Nick Punto made a couple of nice plays in the field. He came in and bare-handed one across the field early in the game, and in the top of the ninth helped Jon Rauch pick up his fifth save by sprinting from shortstop (the defense was in a big shift) to the stands behind third base and making a catch over the rail. He even picked up a hit today. (Okay, maybe it should have been ruled an error, but let's not ruin the fact that all nine Twins reached base at least once today, alright?)
It was an exciting day, and I hope you all were able to watch the game. It was history; it's an odd feeling, watching something and realizing that it's going to be an important day going forward. But now Target Field is officially christened, and a new era of Twins baseball is underway.
No matter how the game was played, the best thing that could have happened today, actually happened. The Twins won (really, was it even possible for the Red Sox to win today, because it didn't feel like it). It's just icing on the cake that the boys played so well.
Enjoy your new home, Twins fans.
Stars of the Game
Carl Pavano: Six innings, four hits and a walk, just one run. He stuck out just four, but he looked good throughout. A very solid appearance for the rotation's veteran.
Denard Span: Two walks, a hit and a pair of stolen bases? Yeah, that's a good day.
Joe Mauer: Three hits, two of which were doubles, and a pair of runs batted in. Just another day at the office, huh, Joe?
Jason Kubel: A three-hit day for Patches, including the first ever regular season homer at Target Field. Two runs batted in. Also, extra points for having that beard more than 50% grown in for the first time ever.
Brian Duensing, Matt Guerrier & Jon Rauch: Three innings of solid relief pitching. FTW.