|Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson follows through on a pitch against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a major league baseball game Monday, April 9, 2012, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/ Jim Mone)|
Sputtering Twins lose home opener 5-1 to Angels
MINNEAPOLIS—The Minnesota Twins are trying to restore pride, health and competitiveness after last year's 99-loss debacle.
First, they need to start by winning a game. To do that, they'll have to take a lead.
C.J. Wilson won his awaited Angels debut with seven smooth innings, giving Los Angeles all the boost it needed to beat the Twins 5-1 on Monday and spoil Minnesota's home opener.
The Twins fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1969. They've been outscored 20-6.
"You never want to start and put yourself in a big hole. It's frustrating because we came out of spring training feeling good," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Wilson (1-0) allowed three hits while striking out five, giving up only one fly ball, a home run by Josh Willingham. Wilson, who struck out Joe Mauer twice, had a 2-0 lead before he even touched the mound, after Torii Hunter's single and Bobby Abreu's double drove in first-inning runs against Nick Blackburn.
The fact that Wilson, who went 31-15 with a 3.14 ERA over the last two years, was slated as their fourth starter provided more proof of how stacked the Angels are this season. Wilson's decision to leave Texas and sign for five years and more than $77 million was barely noticed because Albert Pujols joined on the same day.
But Hunter kidded before the game that he could've built an entire clubhouse "with a fireplace" with all the bats he's seen Wilson break. On a sunny but windy and chilly afternoon -- the first-pitch temperature was 45 degrees -- Wilson looked as comfortable as if he were in his Southern California home.
He walked four, but control has never been his strong suit. Jamey Carroll drew a two-out walk in the third and Mauer followed with a sharp single, but Justin Morneau ended the inning with a weak tapper to the mound. Carroll followed a fifth-inning walk with a double-play grounder.
"He backs you up and keeps you on your toes. The guy throws the fire out of the ball," Gardenhire said.
Blackburn (0-1) was charged with five runs over six innings, but he recorded 15 straight outs in one stretch and surrendered just five hits, a decent first start after two straight rough seasons.
"Disappointing for it to end the way it did, but if I go out there every day like that I'll be pleased," Blackburn said.
The right-hander hasn't won since July 8.
"The ball was sinking, diving, the whole works. He had a great changeup. I was very pleased with him," Gardenhire said.
His demise was leadoff walks to Erick Aybar in the first and Bobby Abreu in the seventh, after which Carroll had a chance to start a double play on a grounder to shortstop. But the ball glanced off his glove for an infield single, and Chris Iannetta followed with a two-run double.
Meanwhile, Aybar made several slick plays at shortstop, dropped down an RBI squeeze bunt and broke up a double play with a takeout slide in the first to keep the inning alive.
"We're trying to find a way to win. You may always end up pressing whether you want to or not," Carroll said. "Everyone in here wants to do well."
Blackburn tried to keep the spirits up, too.
"If we didn't have the season we had last year I don't think people would be talking about it as much," he said. "We're 0-4 right now, but there's still a whole lot of games to play. I think we'll settle in all right."
Notes: Twins GM Terry Ryan said the Twins will wait to reset their rotation until after Thursday, when RH Jason Marquis starts for Triple-A Rochester. Marquis missed two weeks of spring training to be with his seriously injured daughter. RH Scott Baker is seeking a second opinion on his strained elbow, and RH Liam Hendriks was discharged from a Baltimore hospital Monday after missing his start Sunday because of food poisoning. "Feels good to be back in Minnesota where I know it's safe to eat," said Hendriks, who didn't lose any weight. ... Mauer, who is 1 for 14 this season, played 1B and was charged with an error for bobbling a grounder in the sixth. ... Willingham has both of the team's homers. ... Ryan Doumit, who played C for Mauer, had his first hit for the Twins.