Twins Defeat Blue Jays, 4-3, To Get First Victory Of 2011

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Nathan Struggles, But Saves Twins' 4-3 Victory Over Toronto

Joe Nathan had an opportunity to pick up his first save since October 3, 2009 when he was called on to pitch the bottom of the ninth inning with the Minnesota Twins holding a 4-2 lead. He got the victory, but it certainly was interesting.

Nathan got the save despite allowing a run on two hits and walking two in the bottom of the ninth, as Minnesota got their first victory of the 2011 season with a 4-3 triumph over the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon.

Nathan started the ninth inning by giving up an infield single to Travis Snider, and after J.P. Arencibia flew out to left field, Mike McCoy doubled. That sent Snider to third, where he scored on Yunel Escobar's sacrifice fly. Despite only needing one out to get out of the inning, Nathan then walked Juan Rivera and Jose Bautista in consecutive plate appearances to load the bases, but managed to induce a ground out to first from Adam Lind to preserve the Minnesota win.

The Twins got on the board first in this one thanks to Danny Valencia's first hit of the season, a solo home run to left field to lead off the third inning. The Blue Jays tied it up in the bottom of the fourth when Lind scored when Twins' second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka threw errantly after fielding a ground ball off the bat of Edwin Encarnacion.

The Twins put up two more in the top of the fifth on RBI singles by Matt Tolbert and Nishioka. Bautista homered to right in the bottom of the sixth to cut Minnesota's lead to 3-2, but the Twins extended the lead again thanks to Denard Span's solo home run to right field off of former Twin Jon Rauch in the top of the ninth. Span had himself a very good series over the weekend, going 5-for-11 in the three game series.

Nick Blackburn gets credit for the victory for the Twins, as he pitched 5.2 innings, scattering six hits and allowing two runs, only one of which was earned. Jose Mijares, Matt Capps, and Glen Perkins each took the mound as well, bridging the gap to Nathan for the ninth inning.

From here, the Twins move on to a four-game set with the New York Yankees in the Bronx starting tomorrow. Scott Baker will get the start for the Twins tomorrow, and he'll be opposed by right-hander Ivan Nova.

Congratulations to the Twins on getting their first win of the season, and kudos to Joe Nathan for notching that first save, regardless of how interesting it wound up being.

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Twins Hope To Find Offense Today In Toronto

In the first two games of their series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Minnesota Twins have managed all of four runs and have yet to hit the ball out of the park. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, have scored 19 runs and deposited six baseballs into the Rogers Centre seats. This would be a pretty terrible way for an entire baseball season to go, and the Twins will try to establish one victory over the Blue Jays in today's series finale in Toronto.

The Twins will try to change their luck today against left-hander Brett Cecil, who went 15-7 with a 4.22 ERA for the Blue Jays last season and, surprisingly, has never allowed a hit to either Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau. . .not that that matters much, particularly with Mauer sitting out today, but the Twins' two main superstars are a combined 0-for-9 against Cecil. That's just a shade worse than the 1-for-13 mark that the two have combined for in this series.

Minnesota will counter with Nick Blackburn, who went 10-12 with a 5.22 ERA in 2010, but was significantly better after a stint in the minor leagues.

With Mauer out of the lineup, here's how the Twins will look this afternoon.

Denard Span, center field
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, second base
Delmon Young, left field
Justin Morneau, designated hitter
Michael Cuddyer, first base
Jason Kubel, right field
Danny Valencia, third base
Drew Butera, catcher
Matt Tolbert, shortstop

The Blue Jays will counter with this lineup.

Yunel Escobar, shortstop
Juan Rivera, designated hitter
Jose Bautista, right field
Adam Lind, first base
Aaron Hill, second base
Edwin Encarnacion, third base
Travis Snider, left field
J.P. Arencibia, catcher
Mike McCoy, center field

Here's hoping that the Twins can get off the schneid today against the Blue Jays and give themselves a bit of positive momentum with a four-game trip to Yankee Stadium starting on Monday.

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Drabek, Homer-Happy Blue Jays Stifle Twins Again

It was Day Two of the Toronto Home Run Derby, while the Twins managed only a single hit in the sixth inning. Yes, you read that right. One hit. One…measly…hit. Here’s the game recap from Twinkie Town. Be sure to visit to get the full rundown.

It only took about 21 hours for the eternal optimism of spring training to dissolve into an ugly marriage of bad starting pitching and anemic offense for the Twins, who now find themselves at 0-2 after consecutive lousy performances to kick off 2011. Today’s loss came at the hands of Toronto’s Kyle Drabek, who handcuffed the Twins en route to a 6-1 victory.

Drabek and the Toronto bullpen surrendered one run and allowed one hit to a Twins offense that couldn’t do anything. Denard Span’s 6th-inning single accounted for the only hit of the game, while the Twins manufactured their only run on a walk, a stolen base, and two productive outs (somewhere, Whitey Herzog just trembled with excitement) in the third. Drabek went seven innings, striking out seven and walking three.

Meanwhile, Francisco Liriano was, as a local manager might say, “fighting it” all day, walking five, giving up four earned runs and allowing solo home runs to Jose Molina and Jayson Nix. He finished the day with 90 pitches and in just 4.1 innings, and if eye tests mean anything, which they don’t, just didn’t look comfortable at all. Kevin Slowey made his second appearance in as many games and let both his inherited runners score, throwing in one of his own for good measure on a double by Travis Snider’s disturbing mustache.

There’s another game tomorrow. Let’s focus on that.

I know we’re only two games into a 162-game season, but the Twins couldn’t have looked much worse out of the gate. Let’s hope the bats wake up tomorrow to give Nick Blackburn some support and avoid the sweep.

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Twins Look To Even Opening Series With Blue Jays

So, how did you Twins fans enjoy that April Fool’s joke yesterday?

Wait, what? It wasn’t a joke? The four Toronto home runs and 13-3 demolition was actually how the Twins started the season? OK, let’s just move on then. (Side note: it’s fairly obvious that the Pavstache needs to return post haste. That goatee is not working.)

Minnesota will look to rebound today and get their first victory of the very young 2011 season by sending Francisco Liriano to the mound. Liriano had a very successful 2010 campaign, winning the American League Comeback Player of the Year while amassing over 200 strikeouts and a 3.62 ERA.

The Blue Jays will counter with top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek, who made his debut at the Major League level (copyright Bert Blyleven) as a September call-up last year. Drabek is the son of 1990 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek.

First pitch is scheduled for 12:07 PM Central today. The Twins don’t have recent history on their side in Toronto; Minnesota is now 12-29 against the Blue Jays since the start of 2006. They have lost six of their last seven and eight of their last eleven games against Toronto.

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Blue Jays Pound Pavano, Twins, 13-3

The Minnesota Twins' 2011 season didn't get off to quite the start the way they had hoped, as they got ripped by the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre by a final score of 13-3.

The Blue Jays wasted no time in getting to Carl Pavano, loading the bases in the bottom of the first with nobody out, and scoring their first run when Pavano hit Adam Lind with a pitch. By the time the first inning had ended, Toronto had a 4-0 lead. The Twins never really threatened after that, as the Blue Jays extended their lead to 10-0 by the time five innings had been completed.

Minnesota managed to get on the board in the top of the seventh as they scored three runs. Danny Valencia brought home the first run on a ground ball that Toronto third baseman Edwin Encarnacion couldn't handle, allowing Delmon Young to cross the plate. Alexi Casilla followed that with a double to left that scored Jason Kubel, and Denard Span's ground out plated Valencia to cap the Twins' scoring. Toronto scored three more times in the bottom of the eighth to give the Blue Jays their final margin of victory.

Pavano got just two batters deep into the fifth inning, and gave up eight of Toronto's runs on the evening, seven of which were earned.

Over at Twinkie Town, they're not terribly happy. . .but they know it's a long season.

This was not the way anybody would have wanted the season to start, but there it is. It's over, it's done with, and we can move onto tomorrow...which should probably look a lot better than today whether the Twins win or not.

These two teams will get together again tomorrow in an early one, 11:07 AM Central time. The pitching match-up for that one will feature Francisco Liriano for the Twins and Kyle Drabek for the Blue Jays.

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Minnesota Twins Opening Day: Twins Lineup For Tonight's Opener

The lineup card has been posted for the Minnesota Twins for tonight's Opening Day match-up with the Toronto Blue Jays. Ron Gardenhire will go with the following nine:

Denard Span, center field
Tsuyoshi Nishioka, second base
Joe Mauer, catcher
Justin Morneau, first base
Delmon Young, left field
Michael Cuddyer, right field
Jason Kubel, designated hitter
Danny Valencia, third base
Alexi Casilla, shortstop

The Twins' starter tonight is right-hander Carl Pavano, who went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA for the Twins in 2010.

The first pitch is scheduled for 6:07 PM Central time from the Rogers Centre in Toronto. You can watch the action on Fox Sports North with Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven, or you can listen to the action on the Twins Radio Network, where Dan Gladden will once again be along side John Gordon. This will be Gordon's final year as an announcer for the Twins, and his schedule will be limited, but he's going to be there for opening night, and that's exactly the way it should be.

No lineup has been posted for the Blue Jays yet. . .if we find one before the game starts, we'll put it up here.

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