Twins, Pavano fall to Orioles 4-2 in season opener
By: By David Ginsburg, AP Sports Writer, Superior Telegram
BALTIMORE — The Minnesota Twins and Carl Pavano hoped this year would be different.
The Twins and their veteran right-hander were counting on launching the season with a feel-good victory, one that just might spark the team to a solid April.
Instead, Minnesota absorbed a 4-2 defeat against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.
"It is not the way you wanted to start the season, not individually or as a team," said Pavano, who allowed four runs and five hits over seven innings in his third career opening day start.
"You have to tip your hats to them," the 36-year-old said. "They took advantage of what was given them. I walked two guys and they both scored."
Minnesota opened last season with a 13-3 loss to Toronto and ended up finishing in last place. Pavano took the loss in that one, too.
He was far better this time around, but the result was the same. Pavano (0-1) was done in by Nick Markakis, who hit a two-run homer and an RBI triple.
Pavano wasn't bad, but Orioles starter Jake Arrieta was better. Arrieta (1-0) allowed two hits over seven shutout innings in a 97-pitch performance reminiscent of the gem that Rick Sutcliffe tossed against the Cleveland Indians in the inaugural opener at the ballpark exactly 20 years earlier.
Sutcliffe, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch Friday, christened Camden Yards by pitching a five-hit shutout on April 6, 1992.
The only two hits against Arrieta came in the fourth. The right-hander didn't make it the distance, but that didn't detract from what he accomplished in his first start since elbow surgery ended his season last August.
"Unfortunately, their young pitcher dominated us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's pretty good. His curveball was nasty."
Baltimore newcomer Matt Lindstrom gave up two hits in the eighth and Troy Patton yielded a two-run homer to Josh Willingham in the ninth. Jim Johnson then got two outs — the second with runners on the corners — for the save.
"We made a run at them. We gave ourselves a shot," Gardenhire said. "Willy hit the big home run and we found ourselves out there in another situation where, with another big hit who knows what happens?"
Markakis hit a two-run homer in the first inning and added an RBI triple in the sixth. He also walked and scored twice.
Although the Orioles have fallen upon hard times since Camden Yards opened, the folksy, old-fashioned ballpark that stands in the shadow of the B&O Warehouse has undergone only a few cosmetic changes over the past 20 years.
Camden Yards used to attract a sellout crowd for every game. That is no longer the case, but on this day 46,773 fans packed the stadium under a clear sky on a chilly afternoon.
Soon after Sutcliffe casually tossed a strike on the outside corner to former batterymate Chris Hoiles, Arrieta began the Orioles' season with a first-pitch strike to Denard Span.
The Twins didn't get their first hit until Span beat out a grounder leading off the fourth. Justin Morneau then singled with two outs before Willingham lined out to left.
"I just think my mindset was to just really set the tone for our team in front of a great crowd," Arrieta said. "As a whole, we take it personal that most people write us off the get-go. I think we made a statement today. We've got a lot to play for this year."
Markakis put Baltimore up 2-0 in the first with an opposite-field drive to left after J.J. Hardy drew a one-out walk. Pavano retired the next eight batters before Markakis drew a leadoff walk in the fourth. Adam Jones followed with a double and Matt Wieters hit a run-scoring grounder for a 3-0 lead.
In the sixth, Hardy led off with a single and Markakis hit a liner to right that Ryan Doumit failed to grab near the wall while looking into the sun.
"That ball was in the deepest part of the field, right at the wall, middle part of the sun right in his face," Gardenhire noted. "A really tough play."
TWIN TIPS: Markakis is the first Oriole to homer in his initial at-bat on opening day since Luis Matos in 2005. ... It was the third straight year the Twins opened the season on the road. ... Willingham played in his 800th career game. ... In his only start against the Twins last year, Arrieta threw six shutout innings. ... Baltimore is 13-4 at Camden Yards on opening day.