The Boston Red Sox played the role of doormat opponent yesterday afternoon as the fine folks of Minnesota and the Twins opened up Target Field with a 5-2 win.
Three familiar patterns have already emerged in 2010 for the Sox (3-4): 1) David Ortiz is hopeless at the plate and he needs to be benched, deported, something. 2) Jon Lester shouldn't pitch in April or May (35-8 lifetime in June-Oct.). 3) Boston will struggle all year against good teams and good pitching unless they make a move for Adrian Gonzalez or another run producer that they can drop in the middle of the order.
After spending a boatload on Joe Mauer this offseason and with this new park, it's fair to say that Minnesota (6-2) can't be considered small-market anymore. With apologies to Albert Pujols, who is the majors' best hitter, Mauer is the most valuable player since he's a Gold-Glove catcher and batting champion.
The hometown hero had three hits (including two doubles) and two RBIs while Jason Kubel added three hits, two RBIs and a run. Carl Pavano improved to 2-0 on the young season with six innings of work; he gave up one earned run on four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
Lester (0-1) couldn't locate any of his pitches from the start and he'd already thrown 50 pitches in the second inning, always a good sign. He lasted for five innings, allowing four earned runs on nine hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
The Twins jumped ahead right away with two in the first inning on Michael Cuddyer's RBI single which scored Denard Span (2 walks, 2 runs, hit, 2 stolen bases). Then Kubel's infield single scored Orlando Hudson.
Mauer's RBI double in the second made it 3-0 Twins before Ortiz, the former Twin, drove in Kevin Youkilis with an RBI double in the fourth. To be fair, left fielder Delmon Young did drop it (although it was a tough play) but Ortiz will take anything at this point.
A run scored on Mauer's infield single in the fourth and then Kubel hit the first home run in Target Field history.
Dustin Pedroia had a sacrifice fly in the eighth score Jeremy Hermida but that's all Boston's feeble offense could muster.
New Twins closer Jon Rauch got a 1-2-3 ninth on nine pitches for his fifth save of the season. After the off-day today, John Lackey and Kevin Slowey square off tomorrow afternoon.