Home runs lift Twins to victory over Seattle in chilly Target Field opener

April 6, 2018

Was it the cold weather that flustered the eagle Challenger, who took a detour during his flight to home plate and landed briefly on the shoulder of Seattle pitcher James Paxton before the Twins opener on Thursday?

Were the chilly temps responsible for Kyle Gibson lasting just 4 1/3 innings? Or the Twins offense going into a deep freeze for more than half the game?

If true, at least the thaw came before it was too late.

Big blasts by Miguel Sano, Mitch Garver and Eddie Rosario lifted the Twins to a 4-2 win over Seattle. The Twins have won their last two home openers after losing the previous five.

The Twins trailed 2-0 and had just one hit through the first five innings before they tied the game in the sixth on Sanos two-run shot to left. Garver socked one into the second deck in left in the seventh to give the Twins a 3-2 lead and Rosario blasted one over the seats in right in the eighth for an insurance run.

It gave an announced sellout crowd of 39,214 reasons to cheer on a chilly afternoon at Target Field. The game time temperature of 38 degrees was the second coldest home opener in Target Field history and was the eight time a game has started there under 40 degrees.

Until the late innings, the loudest cheers came when the gold medal winning U.S. Mens Curling team threw out the first pitch. There were cheers for Challenger too - they were more like cries of surprise when the bird was released from the outfield and began to head toward home plate before hanging a right and finding Paxton, who was warming up for the game. Paxton just stood there as Challenger slipped off his shoulder and plopped on the grass, where his handler caught up with and apologized to Paxton.

The Seattle lefthander was not flummoxed one bit. He took the mound and began firing 98 mile an hour fastballs at the Twins while shutting them down.

The Mariners scored twice in the first inning off of Twins righthander Kyle Gibson. Dee Gordon scored from third when Sano fielded a grounder and threw wildly to home plate. Daniel Vogelbach added a RBI single.

Gibson was charged with one earned run over 41/3 innings, but he labored and ended up with 80 pitches.

Paxton was sailing until the sixth inning, when Joe Mauer slapped a 97 mph fastball to left for a single then Sano deposited a knuckle curve over the wall in left. That ended Paxtons day.

Garver blasted a 409 foot home run in the seventh off of Dan Altavilla. Then Rosario ripped a down and in pitch from Nick Vincent out to right in the eighth.

Twins manager Paul Molitor activated his new late-inning relief corps after getting the lead. Addison Reed pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, striking out two. Fernando Rodney gave up a hit in the ninth but still earned his first save as a Twin.