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Baltimore at Minnesota

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Minnesota «02013100x7120

Morneau's big night lifts Santana, Twins over Orioles

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota's Cy Young winner wasn't at his best. The MVP certainly was, hitting a home run on the second pitch he saw.

Though the Twins prefer not to single out any of their stars, they have plenty of them these days.

Justin Morneau went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, helping the Twins survive an underwhelming outing by Johan Santana in a 7-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in Monday's season opener.

"We play as a unit here. Everybody just tries to do their thing," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Torii Hunter also drove in two runs, following Morneau's shot in the second inning with a homer of his own on Erik Bedard's next delivery.

That, plus a three-run fifth that ended Bedard's night, was enough for Santana to run his regular-season Metrodome winning streak to 17 games despite a below-standard performance.

"These guys picked me up big time, and we were able to get back," Santana said. "That's the kind of team that we have."

Miguel Tejada's homer was one of five extra-base hits allowed by Santana, who struck out six and walked two. The two-time AL Cy Young selection allowed four runs in six innings, and the Orioles made solid contact against him several times.

He lost the lead briefly when Aubrey Huff, Jay Gibbons and Corey Patterson each hit RBI doubles in the fourth. Tejada hit a home run to straightaway center field to start the sixth, but Minnesota's bullpen held off Baltimore. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for the save.

One reason the Twins began the season with more questions about their rotation than usual is the retirement of Brad Radke, who tossed a low-and-inside pitch to Gardenhire with the ceremonial first ball. Gardenhire jogged to the mound to hug the right-hander, who was Minnesota's opening-day starter for nine of his 12 seasons.

Baltimore has just as many unproven starters behind Bedard, who gave up an RBI single to Jeff Cirillo in the fourth and unraveled in the fifth. Luis Castillo came home on a passed ball, Morneau drove in a run with a single before being thrown out at second base, and Hunter doubled in another run.

"I threw some good pitches and I threw some bad pitches. They hit both," said Bedard, who gave up 10 hits, two walks and six runs in 4 2/3 innings while striking out two.

He started slow last year, leaving a loss at Minnesota on June 11 with a 5-6 record and 5.69 ERA. He rebounded, however, with a stellar second half and finished 15-11 with a 3.76 ERA.

"He lost his command. That happens," catcher Paul Bako said. "The way he threw the ball lights-out all through spring, unfortunately he was probably due for that."

Bedard surrendered only 16 homers in a career-high 196-plus innings last season, an average of less than one long ball every other start. But the left-hander was taken deep twice in the second, the first by a fellow Canadian when Morneau -- who was voted the league's MVP last year -- socked a low-and-away pitch to left-center to lead off.

Hunter went the other way on the next offering, sending the ball sailing above the right-field wall for a quick 2-0 lead that sent the sellout crowd of 48,711 to a standing cheer.

This outing was a bad sign for Baltimore, which is optimistic about improving in a difficult division and chasing the franchise's first winning season since 1997.

"He's our ace. We're counting on him, and he'll be back," Bako said.

The oft-maligned Metrodome turned 25 years old. The place shows plenty of wear, from the graying ceiling to the mouse that scampered through the press box in the afternoon.

But it still gets very loud here, giving the local team a big boost. Minnesota hasn't lost a regular-season home start by Santana since Aug. 1, 2005 -- a span of 24 games.

"He's Johan. He finds a way to get it done," Gardenhire said.

Notes

  • Morneau is 8-for-14 in his career against Bedard. "I don't know if it's extra focus or what, because you know his stuff is so good that if you're not at your best, he's going to get you out," Morneau said.
  • Bako replaced Ramon Hernandez, who has a strained left oblique muscle. Bako was dazed after a jarring home-plate collision in fourth that got Morneau out but required a bandage on his chin. "He plays the game hard, the same way I do. I'd expect myself or any of my teammates to do the same thing," said Bako, who was still bleeding afterward.
  • Hall of Fame radio announcer Herb Carneal, who died Sunday of congestive heart failure at age 83, was honored with several tributes. Carneal called Orioles games from 1957-61 and was a play-by-play voice for the Twins for the next 45 seasons.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Justin Morneau gets tagged out at home, but makes up for it with three hits and two RBI.  (Getty Images)
Justin Morneau gets tagged out at home, but makes up for it with three hits and two RBI. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Minnesota

J. Morneau
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
Baltimore

M. Tejada
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 1
RBI 1
 
Baltimore Orioles
Brian Roberts, 2B3010220 .333
Melvin Mora, 3B5000024 .000
Nick Markakis, RF3100101 .000
Miguel Tejada, SS4121001 .500
Aubrey Huff, 1B4121011 .500
Jay Gibbons, LF4121011 .500
Kevin Millar, DH4000013 .000
Corey Patterson, CF4011001 .250
Paul Bako, C2000111 .000
   a- Freddie Bynum, PH1000000 .000
Totals3448448  
a-grounded out for Bako in the 9th
Batting
2B - Aubrey Huff (1, Santana), Jay Gibbons 2 (2, Santana, Santana), Corey Patterson (1, Santana)
HR - Miguel Tejada (1, Santana)
RBI - Miguel Tejada (1), Aubrey Huff (1), Jay Gibbons (1), Corey Patterson (1)
2-OUT RBI - Corey Patterson (1)
PK - Miguel Tejada (1, Santana)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Nick Markakis 2
PB - Paul Bako (1)
E - Miguel Tejada (1, Misplayed grounder)
Baltimore Orioles
Erik Bedard (L,0-1) 4.21066232 11.57
Scott Williamson 0.2110110 0.00
John Parrish 1.2000020 0.00
Danys Baez 1100000 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Erik Bedard 80-51, Scott Williamson 13-7, John Parrish 25-18, Danys Baez 13-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Erik Bedard 5-4, John Parrish 3-1, Danys Baez 1-2
Batters Faced - Erik Bedard 24, Scott Williamson 4, John Parrish 6, Danys Baez 4
Minnesota Twins
Luis Castillo, 2B5130000 .600
Nick Punto, 3B5110011 .200
Joe Mauer, C3110102 .333
Michael Cuddyer, RF4110036 .250
Justin Morneau, 1B4132000 .750
Torii Hunter, CF4122012 .500
Rondell White, LF3000101 .000
Jeff Cirillo, DH2011100 .500
    Jason Tyner, PR-DH1100000 .000
Jason Bartlett, SS4000013 .000
Totals35712536  
Batting
2B - Luis Castillo (1, Baez), Nick Punto (1, Bedard), Torii Hunter (1, Bedard)
HR - Justin Morneau (1, Bedard), Torii Hunter (1, Bedard)
RBI - Justin Morneau 2 (2), Torii Hunter 2 (2), Jeff Cirillo (1)
2-OUT RBI - Torii Hunter (1)
SB - Jason Tyner (1, 2nd base off Williamson/Bako)
Team LOB - 7
Minnesota Twins
Johan Santana (W,1-0) 6744261 6.00
Dennys Reyes (H,1) 0.1000110 0.00
Jesse Crain (H,1) 0.2000010 0.00
Juan Rincon (H,1) 1100000 0.00
Joe Nathan (S,1) 1000100 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Johan Santana 83-58, Dennys Reyes 11-4, Jesse Crain 8-4, Juan Rincon 14-10, Joe Nathan 17-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Johan Santana 3-8, Juan Rincon 1-2, Joe Nathan 3-0
Batters Faced - Johan Santana 26, Dennys Reyes 2, Jesse Crain 2, Juan Rincon 4, Joe Nathan 4
Game Information
Attendance - 48711
Game Time - 2:56
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Joe West, First Base - Ed Rapuano, Second Base - Ed Hickox, Third Base - C.B. Bucknor