Twins on Target, the Cubs Got Ricketts, and Three Go Extra Long

1. Twins Win in the Open Air of Home

Outdoor baseball returned to Minnesota for the first time in 29 years, as the Twins opened Target Field, the House that Mauer Built, and they opened it in style with a 5-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox. The great Joe Mauer had three hits and two RBI to the delight of the capacity crowd of 39,715 fans gathered under bright blue, sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-60s. It would have been a shame to have played this game indoors.

Carl Pavano pitched six innings, allowing just one run and four hits, to earn the first win, and Jason Kubel hit the first home run in Target Field history. Jon Lester took the loss going just five innings and gave up four runs on nine hits throwing 107 pitches. Red Sox leadoff man Marco Scutaro hit the fourth pitch of the game into center for a single, the first hit at the new ballpark. Orlando Hudson got the first hit by a Twin. Twins closer Jon Rauch earned the first save.

A statue of Kirby Puckett was unveiled on the Target Field Plaza, and 10 flags representing the club’s seven division titles, one American League pennant and two World Series championships were raised by Twins legends Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva and Kent Hrbek.

2. AL West’s Surprise Continues to Roll

It was the home opener in Seattle yesterday and the fans expected to see a surprising team in first place come up with a win … and they did as the Oakland A’s continued to roll defeating the Mariners, 4-0. Justin Duchscherer (1-0), who missed last season because of an elbow injury and clinical depression, won for the first time since he defeated the Mariners on July 8, 2008. JD threw 7.1 innings striking out four allowing two hits and two walks. Losing pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith (0-1) allowed only three hits in seven innings but had a career-high five walks and allowed four runs. Cliff Pennington homered and Gabe Gross had a two-run single for Oakland.

Seattle has scored just 21 runs and their 2-6 start is their worst since opening 1-7 in 2004.

3. Resisting the Temptation

I really want to use the “Houston we have a …” line, but I’m resisting because this is appears to be a long and ugly season for Brad Mills, in his managerial debut, and I fear overusing it. The Astros (0-7) remain the only team in baseball still without a win. In the Cardinals home opener, Adam Wainwright (2-0) showed his homies how good he is by tossing eight shutout innings, allowing just six base hits, striking out seven, and walking just one as the Cards topped the Astros, 5-0. To the delight of the 46,918 fans, the largest regular-season crowd in the history of the current Busch Stadium, the great one, Albert Pujols homered and drove in four. Pujols has hit .438 (12-for-32) with three homers and 14 RBIs in 10 home openers and passed Gil Hodges into 67th place on the all time HR list, with 371. Ryan Ludwick went 4-for-4 as losing pitcher Wandy Rodriguez (0-2) allowed four runs in 4.1 innings.

The Astros are off to their worst start since opening 0-9 in 1983 and have scored only 13 runs all season.

Sadly, batting coach Mark McGwire drew one of the biggest cheers during the pregame introductions but then again Ben Roethlisberger will probably be cheered by Steelers fans this fall.

4. We Don’t (and won’t) talk a lot about the Padres

Usually the only time the Padres come up in conversation is when there is speculation about them trading Adrian Gonzalez or Heath Bell. But they deserve a little love today as 14 Padres batters came to the plate and they scored 10 runs in the 4th inning and ripped the Braves 17-2 setting a Petco scoring record. Will Venable hit a two-run homer as he and Chase Headley had two hits in the inning, Kyle Blanks had a two-run double in the inning and had a three-hit, one homer, five-RBI day, as Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens (0-1) allowed a career-high eight runs and eight hits in 3.1 innings. He was followed by reliever Jo-Jo Reyes who allowed a career-high nine runs and 10 hits in 3.1 innings. Kevin Correia (1-1) earned the win replacing Chris Young as the starter as Young was put on the 15-day DL with a bad right shoulder.

Venable (triple, single, homer) and Blanks (double, homer, single) each finished a hit shy of the cycle. No Padres batter has ever hit for the cycle.

The Pads had scored 19 runs in its previous six combined games. The previous Petco Park record for runs was 15 by the Braves on July 14, 2006. The most by the Padres was 13 against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 6, 2004.

5. Today’s Schedule

AL

Royals (Brian Bannister) at Tigers (Dontrelle Willis), 1:05

Angels (Ervin Santana) at Yankees (Andy Pettitte), 1:05

Rays (Jeff Niemann) at Orioles (Brian Matusz), 7:05

White Sox (Gavin Floyd) at Blue Jays (Ricky Romero), 7:07

A’s (Brett Anderson) at Mariners (Doug Fister), 10:10

NL

Diamondbacks (Ian Kennedy) at Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 4:10

Reds (Bronson Arroyo) at Marlins (Nate Robertson), 7:10

Mets (John Maine) at Rockies (Greg Smith), 8:40

Pirates (Paul Maholm) at Giants (Matt Cain), 10:15

6. The Cubs Got Ricketts

New Cubs owner Tom Ricketts

The Chicago Cubs played their home opener in front of new owner Tom Ricketts and family, and responded by hitting three homers en route to a 9-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. Xavier Nady, Jeff Baker and Aramis Ramirez all homered and Marlon Byrd added three hits. Ryan Dempster was the beneficiary of this largesse and was the winner despite allowing seven hits and five runs in 6.1 innings. Doug Davis (0-1) gave up six runs in 3.1 innings to take the loss. Ryan Braun had a three-run homer and an RBI single in a losing cause for the Brewers.

7. Texas in 10

Nelson Cruz hit a two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning to give the Rangers a 4-2 victory over the Indians at Cleveland’s home opener. It was Cruz’ fifth home run in seven games this season and it gave him the AL lead in homers and RBIs (11). Cruz also tripled and is batting .458. Frank Francisco (2-2), who lost his job as Texas’ closer on Sunday, pitched a perfect 9th and his replacement, Neftali Feliz, earned his third career save.

Rich Harden allowed two runs and five hits in six innings for Texas and Fausto Carmona gave up two runs and five hits in eight innings for Cleveland.

Another opening, another loss – It was the Indians’ third opener in eight days, opening in Chicago, playing in Detroit’s first home game, and now selling out Progressive Field. The Indians lost all three openers.

8. Cincy in 10

Scott Rolen hit a pair of homers and then added a 10th inning line drive single to give the Reds a 6-5, 10-inning win over the Florida Marlins. It was the 20th multi-homer game for Rollins but his first since Sept. 15, 2006. Nick Masset (2-0) picked up the win and Francisco Cordero earned his third save in three chances. Burke Badenhop (0-1) took the loss.

Dan Uggla went 4 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI for the Fish and teammate Jorge Cantu had a two-run double increasing his RBI total to 12. He has at least one hit and one RBI in each of the first seven games, the longest such streak to start a season in the NL since 2005. Orlando Cabrera hit a two-run homer for the Reds.

The announced attendance was 10,119, and the actual crowd totaled about 3,000. Florida has finished last in the NL in attendance every year since 2005. They get the next new ballpark in 2012, if anybody cares.

9. White Sox in 11

Mark Teahen tripled home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning and the Chicago White Sox beat the Blue Jays 8-7 ending Toronto’s five-game winning streak and ruining Toronto’s home opener. Mark Kotsay led off the 11th with a pinch-hit single off Jeremy Accardo (0-1). Teahen had tied the game with a 9th inning homer off Jason Frasor and finished 3 for 5 with three RBI.

Matt Thornton (1-0) threw two scoreless innings for the win and Bobby Jenks gained his second save. Jake Peavy allowed seven runs and eight hits, walking three and striking out two in 5.2 innings, raising his ERA to 8.44 after two starts.

Andruw Jones hit his first two home runs of the season giving him 390 for his career and moving him into a tie with Graig Nettles for 50th on baseball’s career list. Vernon Wells hit his fifth homer of the season.

Teahen has dual Canadian-American citizenship because his father is from St. Marys, Ontario.

The White Sox had lost 10-straight in Toronto, winning for the first time since June 1, 2007.

Sad to say there were no walkoffs yesterday.