Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 4/6/12
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.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

New York Giants to pursue Matt Forte?

Joe Mauer to try wearing sunglasses to improve pitch tracking

Charles Woodson joining ESPN's 'Sunday NFL Countdown' team

A’s land Khris Davis from Brewers for prospects

Family of deceased Kyle Field construction worker awarded $53 million by jury

Chris Bosh to miss All-Star Game with calf injury, Al Horford to replace


NBA commissioner Adam Silver supports bringing sports betting in to the light

Mets pitcher Jenrry Mejia becomes first player ever banned by MLB for PEDs

Eight bold predictions for NBA All-Star Weekend

Iowa athletics department under federal civil rights investigation

2016 Naismith Hall of Fame finalists announced

Hasselbeck ‘strongly leaning towards playing’ in 18th season

Why the Virginia Cavaliers are a National Championship contender

Cardiff City owner tells team to shoot more, because ugly men can marry beautiful women

Report: American Pharoah will make $35 million as stud in 2016

City hosts Tottenham in Valentine’s Day clash

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Is there a place for Aaron Hill with the Brewers?

The market for forwards may shape the NHL trade deadline

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

The most intriguing NBA story lines for the rest of the season

Report: Timberwolves ‘lament’ Andrew Wiggins missing weight-lifting sessions

Kevin Durant to the Warriors makes little sense

City of Atlanta, Braves fighting over iconic Hank Aaron statue

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Ranking the ten best free agent pitcher signings

Who had the best NBA All-Star Game of the last 40 years?

The winners and losers of the 2016 MLB offseason

On Kobe Bryant and taking greatness for granted

Bucks need to choose between wins, development

Fantasy booking WrestleMania 32

Unrestricted free agents each team must consider re-signing

QUIZ: Name the winners of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest

Thank you Daniel Bryan

The timeless greatness of Jaromir Jagr

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker