Anaheim at Minnesota

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L.A. Angels (3-1) «003000200591
Minnesota (1-3)000002110480

Hunter homers, lifts Angels in finale of emotional return to Minnesota

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After four days of standing ovations, two pregame ceremonies to honor him and a week's worth of reminiscing, Torii Hunter is ready to go home.

For the first time in 10 years, home does not mean Minnesota. He's headed back to Los Angeles with the Angels after a draining opening series against his former team, but he made sure to leave Twins fans with a little something to remember him by.

In the final game of an emotional return to the Metrodome, Hunter homered leading off the seventh inning to back a strong start from Ervin Santana and help Los Angeles beat Minnesota 5-4 on Thursday.

"That's big, to kind of end it that way," said Hunter, who was honored with a pregame video on opening day and given his Gold Glove before Game 2. "I started to slow down the last two games. I didn't have any opening-day ceremonies or anything like that.

"It was more emotional, man, than anything. Just coming back, walking up the wrong way, going in the wrong clubhouse, running to center field from the wrong side. It was weird."

Prior to his drive, Hunter had gone just 2-for-14 to start the season and admitted to being gassed from the pageantry and warm welcomes he received from Twins fans who watched him star in center field for the previous nine years.

On getaway day, he had just enough left in him to muscle a mistake from Brian Bass into the seats in left-center field, and the small crowd at the dome gave one last standing ovation to the fan favorite who signed a $90 million, five-year deal with the Angels in the offseason.

Mike Napoli and Gary Matthews Jr. also homered for Los Angeles. Hunter went 1-for-4 to finish the series 3-for-16.

"I am drained. I'm tired. Mentally tired," Hunter said. "I get to go home and relax, back at home in L.A. No pressure. No emotional (situations). I'm good to go."

Francisco Rodriguez got Michael Cuddyer swinging with runners on first and second to end the game and pick up his second save. The Angels took three of four from the Twins to open the season and got an encouraging start from Santana, who gave up just two runs and four hits with three strikeouts in six innings.

Joe Mauer had two doubles and two RBI for the Twins, who lost starter Kevin Slowey (0-1) in the fourth inning with a strained right biceps.

Slowey, the 2007 Twins minor league player of the year, gave up three runs and four hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said Slowey likely will skip his next start and be evaluated from there.

"It's nothing serious but certainly nothing that we want to mess around with," Slowey said. "I'll keep it in ice and follow the trainers the next couple days and see how it goes."

Jason Kubel homered in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-4, but that was it for Minnesota's struggling bats. Justin Morneau went 0-for-3 with a sacrifice fly and is 0-for-13 this season.

It had to be a confidence builder for Santana (1-0), who is coming off a trying 2007 that featured him getting knocked out of his spot in the rotation. He also spent a month at Triple-A Salt Lake, and lost some momentum from a promising two-year start to his career.

After winning 24 games in his first two seasons, Santana went 7-14 with a 5.76 ERA last year.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Santana was "terrific" with his mechanics and his command.

"If he can bottle that, he's going to have a good year," Scioscia said.

Despite starting the season with their top two starters -- John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar -- on the disabled list, the Angels should feel great about their rotation as they leave Minnesota.

Jered Weaver, Jon Garland, Joe Saunders and Santana combined to go 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in 28 1/3 innings at the Metrodome.

"We've got some good starting pitching," Hunter said. "Our pitching ain't slouching now."

Notes

  • Kubel's homer was the first of the year by the Twins. The last time it took them this long to hit one was in 1999.
  • Speaking of holding on, Los Angeles' Maicer Izturis flung his bat into the first row of seats far down the first-base line after losing his grip in the third. Teammate Howie Kendrick also lost the handle in the fourth, and a fan made a nice one-handed grab of the bat about 10 rows up the third-base line.
 
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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Torii Hunter's leadoff homer in the top of the seventh inning gives the Angels a 4-2 lead. (AP)
Torii Hunter's leadoff homer in the top of the seventh inning gives the Angels a 4-2 lead. (AP)

Players of the Game
Anaheim

G. Matthews
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
Minnesota

J. Mauer
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 2
 

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Los Angeles Angels
Chone Figgins, 3B4020011 .375
Gary Matthews Jr., RF4112001 .294
Vladimir Guerrero, DH4000011 .250
Garret Anderson, LF4010011 .250
Torii Hunter, CF4111021 .188
Casey Kotchman, 1B4010001 .353
Howie Kendrick, 2B3110111 .400
Mike Napoli, C4111003 .273
Maicer Izturis, SS4111002 .167
Totals3559516  
Batting
2B - Garret Anderson (2, Slowey), Casey Kotchman (1, Reyes), Howie Kendrick (2, Slowey)
HR - Gary Matthews Jr. (1, Slowey), Torii Hunter (1, Bass), Mike Napoli (2, Bass)
RBI - Gary Matthews Jr. 2 (2), Torii Hunter (1), Mike Napoli (2), Maicer Izturis (3)
2-OUT RBI - Gary Matthews Jr. 2 (2), Mike Napoli (1)
SB - Chone Figgins (2, 2nd base off Reyes/Mauer)
CS - Chone Figgins (1, 2nd base by Bass/Mauer)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
E - Chone Figgins (1, Throwing)
Los Angeles Angels
Ervin Santana (W,1-0) 6422230 3.00
Darren Oliver (H,1) 0.2311000 6.75
Justin Speier (H,1) 1.1111001 6.75
Francisco Rodriguez (S,2) 1000220 0.00
IBB - Mauer by Francisco Rodriguez
WP - Francisco Rodriguez (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Ervin Santana 102-62, Darren Oliver 22-15, Justin Speier 14-11, Francisco Rodriguez 25-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ervin Santana 7-8, Darren Oliver 1-1, Justin Speier 2-2
Batters Faced - Ervin Santana 24, Darren Oliver 5, Justin Speier 5, Francisco Rodriguez 5
Minnesota Twins
Carlos Gomez, CF5120022 .375
Joe Mauer, C3122100 .333
Michael Cuddyer, RF5000016 .188
Justin Morneau, 1B2001100 .000
Delmon Young, LF4010012 .400
Jason Kubel, DH4111003 .333
Mike Lamb, 3B4000010 .091
Brendan Harris, 2B4110000 .231
Adam Everett, SS2010100 .250
   a- Matt Tolbert, PH0000100 .333
Totals3348445  
a-walked for Everett in the 9th
Batting
2B - Joe Mauer 2 (2, Santana, Santana)
HR - Jason Kubel (1, Speier)
SF - Joe Mauer (1), Justin Morneau (1)
RBI - Joe Mauer 2 (3), Justin Morneau (1), Jason Kubel (1)
2-OUT RBI - Jason Kubel (1)
Team LOB - 8
Minnesota Twins
Kevin Slowey (L,0-1) 3.1433021 8.10
Brian Bass 3.1322012 5.79
Juan Rincon 1100010 9.00
Dennys Reyes 0.2100020 0.00
Matt Guerrier 0.2000100 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Kevin Slowey 55-35, Brian Bass 44-29, Juan Rincon 11-8, Dennys Reyes 12-6, Matt Guerrier 18-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kevin Slowey 3-5, Brian Bass 6-2
Batters Faced - Kevin Slowey 14, Brian Bass 12, Juan Rincon 4, Dennys Reyes 3, Matt Guerrier 3
Game Information
Attendance - 17084
Game Time - 3:06
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Chris Guccione, First Base - Charlie Reliford, Second Base - Kerwin Danley, Third Base - Brian Runge