The Twins' opener last night in Anaheim provided a deflating start to one of the most anticipated seasons in franchise history. The Twins fell behind early and, while they battled back to tie the game a couple times, in both instances the Angels retook the lead in the following half-inning. Scott Baker struggled to locate his fastball and lasted only 4 2/3 innings while issuing an uncharacteristic three walks, and the vaunted big bats in the middle of the Twins' lineup were for the most part very silent.
Among the few bright spots in the game were Delmon Young, who homered, beat out an infield single and stole a base in the game, prompting numerous premature declarations that his offseason weight loss has truly transformed his game. Jesse Crain's performance was also highly encouraging, as he picked up where he left off in the '09 campaign by tossing 1 2/3 innings without allowing a baserunner.
Unfortunately, the bad outweighed the good last night. Baker, as mentioned, seemed uncomfortable throughout his start. Jose Mijares, who came on in relief in the eighth inning, let the game get out of hand by serving up a pair of homers and expanding the Angels' lead from one to three. Denard Span went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel combined for just three singles.
Of course, the beauty of baseball is that this was only one game and the Twins will have their shot to erase all the bad memories tonight, when Nick Blackburn faces off against Joe Saunders. I'm not particularly optimistic about this match-up, as the southpaw Saunders could present some problems against the Twins' lefty-heavy lineup and I've got real concerns about Blackburn this season, but as they say, games aren't decided on paper.