Power fuels Twins 4-2 comeback vs. Mariners in cold opener
A flyover of four Air Force jets comes over Target Field after the national anthem as the Seattle Mariners and the Minnesota Twins line up prior to the Twins home-opener baseball game Thursday, April 5, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
The handler for an American eagle that was to fly to the pitcher’s mound during the national anthem pats Seattle Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton, a Canadian, after the eagle chose to land on his shoulder instead. (Jeff Wheeler/Star Tribune via AP)
By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Mitch Garver hit the go-ahead home run in the seventh for Minnesota, one inning after Miguel Sano tied the game with a two-run shot as the Twins powered their way past the Seattle Mariners for a 4-2 victory in their chilly home opener on Thursday afternoon.
Eddie Rosario went deep in the eighth to pad the lead, and Fernando Rodney worked the ninth for his first save with the Twins. That capped a stretch of 4 2/3 scoreless innings by the bullpen in relief of Kyle Gibson.
Zach Duke (1-0) picked up the victory, and Addison Reed striking out two in a perfect eighth.
James Paxton started strong for the Mariners with five scoreless innings after a first-pitch temperature of 38 degrees and a startling moment during the pregame ceremony. The bald eagle that was supposed to fly to the mound before the national anthem instead circled Paxton, a Canadian, where he was standing alone in left field on a break from his warmup throws. The confused bird wound up landing its large talons on the lefty's right shoulder, before being lured away by the handler.
The remarkable poise shown by Paxton was challenged in the sixth, when Joe Mauer started with a single. Sano followed with a drive into the second deck, the only one of Minnesota's 12 home runs this season that has come with a runner on base.
Rodney, who gave up the game-winning home run on opening day at Baltimore last week in the 11th inning, walked Dee Gordon to start the ninth. Gordon stole second base as Jean Segura struck out. Rodney retired the next two on a grounder and a line drive, giving the sellout crowd of 39,214 at Target Field the chance to see the 41-year-old's signature arrow-shooting move after a successful save.
Garver's drive, his first major league homer, reached the second deck, too, against Dan Altavilla (0-1).
Gibson beat the Orioles last week with six hitless innings, but he was behind 2-0 after the first against the Mariners following consecutive singles by Gordon and Segura to begin the game. Mitch Haniger drove in Gordon on a grounder to third, where Sano threw wildly past Garver on the attempt to get the runner at the plate. Then Daniel Vogelbach sent Segura home with a two-out single.
The sun was shining for the first half of the game, making the conditions more tolerable than anticipated following an early-spring storm that dumped about 8 inches of wet snow on Target Field until ceasing on Tuesday night. Twins employees brought shovels to the ballpark on Wednesday to help clear the playing surface .
Mariners: DH Nelson Cruz, on the DL with a sprained right ankle, is rid of the swelling but has yet to resume baseball activities, manager Scott Servais said.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana, on the DL following surgery on his middle finger, is behind the original schedule for recovery. The club is considering another medical examination for the ace, manager Paul Molitor said.
Mariners: RHP Mike Leake (1-0, 2.57 ERA) is scheduled to start on Saturday afternoon.
Twins: RHP Jose Berrios (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is slated to take the mound for the middle game of the series.
For more AP baseball coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
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