The Twins got their first win of the season and it came in comeback fashion, as they rallied for two runs in the seventh before Byung Ho Park put in them in front with an RBI double in the eighth in a 5-4 win over the Angels on Friday night at Target Field.
But Minnesota showed resolve, tying it with two runs in the seventh against four Angels relievers. Eduardo Nunez sparked the rally with an RBI double before scoring on a two-out single from Joe Mauer.
"It was much-needed and a tough game going back-and-forth late," manager Paul Molitor said. "We hung in there and some guys got some big hits, which is a good thing. So 1-9 is better than 0-10. It's a start and we gotta find a way to back it up a little bit, but nice to get the first one out of the way."
Trevor Plouffe opened the eighth with a single off reliever Fernando Salas before coming around to score on a one-out double down the left-field line from Park. Kevin Jepsen threw a scoreless ninth against his former team to pick up the save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Nunez paces offense: Nunez went 4-for-4 in his first start of the season against the Royals on Sunday, and served as a sparkplug again on Friday, going 3-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch. He scored the tying run in the sixth on an RBI double from Sano, and keyed a two-run rally in the seventh with an RBI double. Mauer came through with a two-out single to score Nunez to tie the score at 4. Nunez is hitting .778 (7-for-9) this season. More >
"To help the team win is the best feeling ever," Nunez said. "If I had three hits and we lost, that means nothing. So I'm feeling pretty good."
Walking without a cause: The Angels missed a prime chance to take control in the eighth when Twins reliever Trevor May walked the bases loaded. Mike Trout and Pujols walked to open the inning before Pujols was retired on a fielder's choice grounder from C.J. Cron. May followed with another walk of Calhoun, but reliever Casey Fien retired Andrelton Simmonson a flyout to end the threat. More >
Scary collision ends up OK: The Twins had an unnerving situation to open the fourth, whenYunel Escobar hit a shallow fly ball to right field, and right fielder Miguel Sano collided with second baseman Eduardo Nunez as he charged in to make the play. Joe Mauer retrieved the ball and made a nice throw to third base to get Escobar. Nunez was looked at by trainer Tony Leo, but remained in the game.
"Sano hit me in my head, my neck, and also got me with his spike on my calf," Nunez said. "And then I got hit on the elbow. So it was a tough night."
Catcher speed: The Angels opened the scoring in the sixth when catcher Carlos Perezshowed off a bit of speed. Perez started the inning with a soft single to center field. But when Minnesota's Eddie Rosario bobbled the ball slightly, Perez accelerated quickly and got to second. Perez later scored on a double by Yunel Escobar. The Angels finished the game just 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
"I thought on the offensive side we did a lot more than the game's going to show," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We had a lot of opportunities and that's a good sign. We've got to keep that going. It's good to see a couple guys drive the ball also."
QUOTABLE "I'm not really much of an emotional guy out there. I always try to keep it calm and quiet, but when I got to second base and saw Trevor coming home to score that run, without thinking I threw my hands in the air and let out a scream there. But that's just how much it meant to me and the fans in the stands. It was a good feeling." -- Park, on getting the game-winning hit
"I can't worry about that stuff. I need to take the ball every fifth day and go give us a chance to win. That's pretty much my only goal; fill up the zone, keep guys off-balance, move the ball in and out, establish the inside part of the plate so when the bullpen comes in after me, that's already done. There's so many games to be played. It's early in the season and we're kind of getting our roll going. The offense is starting to go, the defense is playing well, so we'll just build off of this one. It's unfortunate we couldn't' win, but it's part of baseball." -- Richards, on the team losing each of his three starts
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS The Twins avoided becoming the seventh team since 1900 to open a season with 10 straight losses. Their nine straight defeats to open the year set a franchise record. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Angels:Jered Weaver will make his second start of the season -- looking to replicate his victory against the Rangers -- in the middle game of this series at Target Field on Saturday at 11:10 a.m. PT. On April 10, Weaver pitched six innings and allowed just one run with four strikeouts vs. Texas. The right-hander is one strikeout shy of 1,500 for his career, which would make him the third player in franchise history to reach the mark.
Twins: Right-hander Ricky Nolasco gets the start for the Twins on Saturday at 1:10 p.m. CT against the Angels, and is coming off a strong outing against the Royals in his season debut. Nolasco allowed one run over seven innings with five strikeouts and no walks in a no-decision.