The much-heralded newer, better Twins lineup closed out their pretend game season on a very strong note, with crooked numbers and impressive home runs dotting the landscape. The real games started on Friday afternoon, and the lineup was exactly as good as it was last year for the first 8 innings, scoring zero runs and scratching out four hits against Jake Arrieta and the Baltimore bullpen. The offense finally came alive in the 9th, with Josh Willingham belting a 2-run dinger to make halve the Orioles' lead and make it interesting. The Twins were able to get the go-ahead run to the plate, but Trevor Plouffe tapped out to J.J. Hardy to end the game and give Baltimore a 4-2 victory.
Arrieta certainly merited his Opening Day starter status by going 7 innings, allowing just 2 hits, striking out 4 and just making really good pitches a lot (baseball term).
As far as the Minnesota's pitching, Carl Pavano was exactly what we've come to expect: made a first-inning mistake to Nick Markakis, whose 2-run homer staked Baltimore to a 2-0 lead, then gave the Twins seven acceptable innings of his own. Ryan Doumit Delmon'd a deep fly in the late-afternoon Baltimore murder sun to extend the lead to 4-0, but the run was charged to Pavano (4 ER, 1 K, 2 BB). As noted by multiple Twittererers, Arietta was hitting the mid-'90s all game. Pavano never got above 87 mph.
Jeff Gray entered the game in the 8th and was dreadful, but Brian Deunsing cleaned up his mess and allowed for the 9th to at least be a bit suspenseful.
- Willingham. In addition to his impressive dong, had a very nice outfield assist to Joe Mauer at home in the fifth.
- Jamey Carroll. Made at least three plays at short that I don't think any of the shortstops the Twins had in 2011 would have made.
- The Streaker. A fan stormed the field in the early inning while wearing a cape. The cape moves him from Dud to Stud as Twinkie Town endorses flair in their misdemeanor crimes.
- Gray. He really didn't look very good. At all.
- Justin Morneau. Struck out twice in situations where a hit would've been critical. They were good pitches, but still.
- Doumit. That was a really bad play in right, and he also accounted for the second out in the 9th.