The Minnesota Twins got their season off on the right foot on Monday, defeating the Baltimore Orioles 7-4. Johan Santana (1-0) got the win, tossing six innings of seven-hit ball, striking out six. Joe Nathan slammed the door for his first save of the season, as the Twins picked up the victory in front of a sell out crowd of 48,711.
Santana had it going early, shutting out the Birds for the first three innings of the game. The Twins struck first in the bottom of the second inning, as 2006 American League Most Valuable Player Justin Morneau, and Torii Hunter hit back-to-back solo shots to open up a 2-0 lead. The Orioles would respond with three in the fourth, giving them their only lead of the night.
The Twins tied the game up in the bottom of the fourth, as they loaded the bases with one out on singles by Morneau and Michael Cuddyer, followed by a walk to Rondell White. After a visit to the mound, Jeff Cirillo stroked an RBI single for his first ribbie as a Minnesota Twin, but Morneau was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second.
In the fifth, Luis Castillo singled, and advanced to third on a big double by Nick Punto. After a Joe Mauer walk and a Cuddyer strikeout, Castillo scored on a passed ball by Paul Bako to give the Twins the lead for good 4-3. Morneau then singled in Punto, but was thrown out by Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis for the second out of the inning. The Twins would score once more on a Hunter double, which scored Mauer.
After an Orioles run in the top of the sixth, the Twins struck back, as Cirillo walked an was pinch-run for by Jason Tyner. Tyner stole second, and would score on a fielding error by Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada. The run would make the score 7-4, which would wind up being the final tally.
Nathan worked the ninth for his first save of the year, securing Santana’s first victory of the season. Castillo and Morneau both had three-hit games, and Hunter picked up two knocks. Shortstop Jason Bartlett was the only Twins regular not to reach base in the game.
The Twins and Orioles play game two of the series on Tuesday, with Boof Bonser getting the start for the Twins against Baltimore’s Daniel Cabrera. In AL Central news, the Tigers and White Sox both lost, with the Indians and Royals picking up wins.
TwinCitiesDugout.com Player of the Game: Justin Morneau: 3-4, R, 2RBI, HR(1)
Twins Notes:The Opening Day start was Johan Santana’s second of his career, and his second straight.Justin Morneau’s home run was his first on Opening Day.The back-to-back home runs by Morneau and Torii Hunter was the first time the Twins have gone back-to-back on Opening Day.Michael Cuddyer left six runners on base, and the rest of the team left nine runners on combined.Former Twins right-hander Brad Radke threw out the first pitch.