New stat: HORT (Homers Over Replacement Team...or HOR for short)
The Angels took a 1-0 lead off Kevin Slowey in the bottom of the second on Thursday night, as Maicer Izturis drove in Juan Rivera. Los Angeles would threaten again, but wouldn't scrape across another run. The Twins took the lead for good in the top of the fifth, with Jim Thome's double and Jason Kubel's run-scoring single leading off the frame. Joel Pineiro's biggest mistake was leaving a high breaking ball hanging for Brendan Harris, who pulled the first homer of the evening into right field and made it 3-1.
Slowey's night wasn't sexy but it was more than good enough, thanks in no small part to Pat Neshek who thew four pitches to get two outs and end the Angel threat in the sixth to hold Minnesota's 3-1 lead. Slowey had thrown 92 pitches on the night, 60 for strikes, but with a pair of singles and just one out in the inning Gardy had seen enough.
The game remained in limbo as both teams went late into the game without scoring again. Jose Mijares and Kevin Jepsen traded scoreless seventh innings. But a couple of poor pitches by Angels relievers, and the Twins would be an exclamation point on the series.
Brian Stokes didn't have a chance to find his pace, walking Justin Morneau and giving up a single to Michael Cuddyer to start the inning. The massive bulk of one Jim Thome lumbered into the box, and proceeded to demolish a first-pitch fastball into the left-center field seats. Paul Bunyan cowers at the feet of Jimmer. Thome took a nice, easy swing, and proceeded to hobble around the bases for his first bomb as a Twin. It was beautiful. And it's still a little bizarre to see him in a Twins uniform.
[NOTE TO WHOEVER THREW THE BALL BACK ONTO THE FIELD: What's wrong with you? You caught a home run ball from a future Hall of Famer, and you throw the ball back? Are you insane? Or are you just not a baseball fan? I can't believe it when a home run ball gets thrown back after being hit by a guy just getting a cup of coffee, and you throw back a ball that was tater'd by Jim Thome. I'm stunned. Still.]
The finishing touches were applied in the top of the ninth, as Orlando Hudson doubled to start the inning. It was a bit hairy for a minute--Hudson slid into second base and ended up bashing his head against a rock the knees of Erick Aybar. Hudson's fine, but Alexi Casilla replaced him on the bases and promtly scored when Joe Mauer singled on the first pitch he saw. Obvious comment of the day: Joe's good at going the other way.
Delmon Young struck the final blow, launching his second homer of the season (a three-run shot) after taking over for Jason Kubel. It was a breaking ball, by the way.
The most important thing is that the Twins won. Taking the season opening series is a great start to the year, with three wins already in the bank. But what was fun to watch this series? The offense. Minnesota smacked nine homers of Angels pitching, and that's no small feat. Young, Justin Morneau, J.J. Hardy each have a pair, while Thome, Mauer and Harris each have one.
Get your calculators out, Bert! There'll be lots of California math to do this year!
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#3: Kevin Slowey (5.1 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 3 K, 2 BB, .116 WPA)
#2: Brendan Harris (1-for-3, HR, BB, 2 RBI, R, .220 WPA)
#1: Jim Thome (2-for-4, 2B, HR, BB, 3 RBI, 2 R, .180 WPA)
#1: Brian Stokes (1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 3 R, -.125 WPA)
#2: Fernando Rodney (1 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 4 R, -.008 WPA)
#3: Denard Span (0-for-4)
|Final - 4.8.2010||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Los Angeles Angels||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||8||1|
|WP: Kevin Slowey (1 - 0)
LP: Joel Pineiro (0 - 1)