Found April 06, 2012 on
Fox Sports North:
Toronto Blue Jays
The Minnesota Twins opened their season on Friday able to finally start with a clean slate after last year's disappointing 63-99 record.
Three batters into the bottom of the first inning and the look of the season-opener had a certain dj vu feeling. Former Twin J.J. Hardy had walked and Nick Markakis followed with a one-out, two-run home run to put Minnesota in a 2-0 hole.
This is a clean slate and different season for Minnesota though. A peek at the Opening Day lineup was enough to prove that. Denard Span was leading off and playing centerfield. Joe Mauer was catching and hitting third. Justin Morneau -- while playing designated hitter -- is healthy and was the Twins' cleanup hitter in Friday's 4-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
With other additions like Josh Willingham, who hit a two-run home run, and Jamey Carroll, who made at least two standout defensive plays at shortstop, Minnesota did look like a different team despite the result.
"We got back into it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had the guys out there at the end. That's what you've got to keep doing, play for nine innings and we did that today, happy with that. Unfortunately, we lost the ballgame. But (you) never know what's going to happen on Opening Day."
Even one loss wasn't going to change the feeling things are different this time. After Willingham's homer, the Twins also had runners at first and third before Trevor Plouffe grounded out to end the game.
"We gave ourselves a shot," Gardenhire said. "There's not going to be any quitting. Guys were into it. Willy hit the big home run and we put ourselves out there. In another situation if we get another big hit, who knows what happens.
"That's a good thing. But a loss is a loss. We lost the ballgame, but now you've got to come back tomorrow, turn the page and we've got to come back out there and try to score some runs for our pitcher."
Unlike last season, Minnesota has a healthy lineup with which to turn the page. Last year's Opening Day lineup only stayed together for the first week and was never able to be reconstructed due to injuries. Span, Mauer and Morneau are healthy now. Willingham is part of a lineup Friday that has only three position players returning to the same spot.
Span had two hits Friday. Mauer had two walks and scored on Willingham's homer. Morneau also had a hit.
"Depth is never overrated, especially with a team we rely on a lot of guys we didn't have last year," Pavano said. "We have a lot of year ahead of us. Obviously we'd have liked to have gotten off on the right foot today. We didn't do that. We got beat."
Last year, Pavano gave up eight runs - seven earned - in four innings in a 13-3 opening loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. This time around, he recovered after Markakis' home run and went seven innings, giving up five hits and four runs.
And he was backed by strong defense. The Twins' long-time mantra of pitching to contact and playing good defense was a weak spot last season. Friday, Carroll made two very good plays at shortstop where Tsuyoshi Nishioka struggled last year, and Willingham threw a runner out at home plate in the sixth inning.
"It's only one game, "Pavano cautioned. "I put us behind 3-0 by the second or third inning. Sometimes that gets to lull the guys a little bit and takes them a little while to get out of that funk, but I thought they played great behind me."
Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
The Minnesota Twins have seen the good Francisco Liriano, and they've also seen the not-so-good Francisco Liriano. Both sides of the Twins' left-hander made appearances in Saturday's 8-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, but the good Liriano's appearance was nothing but a brief cameo.
After a down year in 2011, Liriano had perhaps the most encouraging spring training...
Minnesota Twins right-handed pitcher Scott Baker left a minor league rehab start Thursday after throwing only 11 pitches.
Baker had been placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday, retroactive to March 27, due to elbow tendinitis.
The 30-year-old Baker pitched four innings Saturday and was looking to build up his arm strength. He was eligible to return from the disabled list on...
"The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball."
That's a line from "Field of Dreams." And, with another baseball season starting, it's a line that applies to the Twins.
The one constant through all the years since 1991 has been that the Twins come up short. They came up way short last season, losing 99 games.
They won't come up...
Finally. Opening Day is here.After a tailspin led to 99 losses for the Minnesota Twins last year, the end of the 2011 season seemingly couldn't come fast enough. And for a Twins team looking to turn the page on all that, the 2012 opener couldn't come soon enough. A chance at redemption officially begins Friday when the Twins open their year on the road against the Baltimore...
With Opening Day upon us, we're finally getting around to wrapping up our Season Previews. Five years ago, they began as a semi-serious analysis and ended up as half-assed haiku. We're just gonna go with what we know. As our final preview of the 2012 season, and polishing off our preview of the American League Central, let's check out the Minnesota Twins.
Minnesota Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks has been scratched from his scheduled start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles with food poisoning.
Hendriks was admitted to a Baltimore-area hospital on Saturday morning and held for observation, according to manager Ron Gardenhire. Barring further complications, Hendriks will be released Sunday.
Long reliever Anthony Swarzak will start...
Minnesota Twins right-handed pitcher Liam Hendriks has been scratched from his scheduled start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles with food poisoning.Hendriks was admitted to a Baltimore-area hospital on Saturday morning and is being held for observation, according to manager Ron Gardenhire. Long reliever Anthony Swarzak will start in Hendriks' place.
There were games in Japan, a game in the garish new stadium in Miami, and games all around the country yesterday - now Opening Day has finally come to Baltimore. The team's going to be bad (by WAR I think I had them coming out to 72 wins; but 69-72 seems like a reasonable range for expectantions), but watching baseball played by a bad major league team is still better than most...
The Orioles picked up their usual Opening Day win yesterday, and are tied for first place in the AL East. Going wire-to-wire is probably going to require a second victory today, so they'll need to make that happen to keep the dream alive.The Twins (2011 stats):