Much has been made about the Twins' off-season signings, but it was a new Angel that made the difference on Opening Night. Designated hitter Hideki Matsui, playing his first game in Anaheim, singled home the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, then homered in the eighth to lead the Angels past Minnesota, 6-3.
The Twins, trailing by just one run, loaded the bases in both the sixth and seventh innings, but twice failed to push a run across. In the sixth, Delmon Young flew to left after three straight Twins had reached to fill the bases with two out; in the seventh, Justin Morneau lined out to first to end another bases-loaded rally. For the night, the Twins were just 1-6 with men in scoring position.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, took advantage of their chances. After Scott Baker walked two of the first three home hitters, Kendry Morales and Juan Rivera rapped back-to-back RBI singles for the early lead. Baker also gave up a home run to catcher Jeff Mathis, failed to finish the fifth inning after giving up Matsui's RBI single, and in general did not have the type of Opening Day start we all hoped for.
The Angels blew the game open in the eighth, as Morales followed up Matsui's blast with a round-tripper of his own, chasing Mijares from the game and giving L.A. all the runs they would need.
After the jump, the Twins who stood out - and not in a good way.
3. Scott Baker
Baker had trouble locating his pitches, and ended up walking three hitters - uncharacteristic for a Twins pitcher. A deserved loss, for sure.
2. Jose Mijares
A pair of home runs allowed - ay.
1. Denard Span
The center fielder went 0-5 and struck out three times. He had a hot spring, but I suppose that counts for little now.
On the bright side, Pat Neshek looked pretty good in his first inning since 2008. The player of the night, however, despite the sixth inning, was Delmon Young. Young hit his first home run of the season for Minnesota, a two-run blast in the second; he also created the Twins' third run by legging out an infield hit, stealing second base, moving to third on a grounder, and scoring on Nick Punto's sacrifice fly.
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