MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Twins had nearly 10,000 fans at Target Field on Thursday for the first time in more than a year, and they went home happy after a 10-2 win over the Seattle Mariners in the 2021 home opener.
The official announced attendance was 9,675, and they had plenty to cheer about despite a soggy day where it rained most of the morning, and had to wait through a 16-minute rain delay in the game. The day started with former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire throwing the ceremonial first pitch to his son, now St. Paul Saints manager Toby Gardenhire.
Then, Jose Berrios tossed 5 2/3 relatively clean innings, the Twins got home runs from Mitch Garver, Byron Buxton and Luis Arraez, and the offense erupted for 16 hits. The Twins won their fifth straight home opener, and are now 7-5 in home opener history at Target Field.
"It was fantastic to be out there and have our fans. It felt like there were a lot of people in the stands, I’ll be honest with you. For us to go out there and play a nice ballgame for them makes it all the better," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said after the win. "It was a great day from top to bottom, couldn’t ask for more and it was a lot of fun too."
Baldelli admitted after the game he looked around the stadium to see fans taking in the game and enjoying themselves. That, after playing in an emtpy Target Field in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Four Twins, Kyle Garlick, Garver, Buxton and Andrelton Simmons, had multi-hit games on the day. Berrios was lifted from the game with two outs in the sixth after allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out eight and walking three on 99 pitches.
He left the field to a standing ovation, and tipped his cap to the fans before going into the dugout.
"We were waiting for this moment for a really long time. Everybody knows here, Minnesota fans are great people. They like baseball, they’re always cheering for us no matter what happens out there," Berrios said. "Today I had that first time, that first start to feel the crowd cheering for me and congratulating me. I feel so happy."
The Mariners struck first with a two-out single to take a 1-0 lead in the third. The Twins answered with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. Jorge Polanco doubled to left and scored on Kyle Garlick’s double. Garver then followed with a 435-foot blast over the wall in center to give the Twins a 4-1 lead.
After the short rain delay, Buxton launched a 393-foot blast into the upper deck in left field and heard MVP chants as he rounded the bases for the team-leading fourth time this season. Garver would score on Miguel Sano’s single to left, and Sano scored on a Luis Arraez sacrifice fly.
Nelson Cruz scored on Max Kepler’s infield hit in the sixth, and Arraez added a two-run blast in the seventh, hist first of the season.
"I’ve been missing the fans, they gave me a lot of energy. It’s amazing because we miss you, we miss the fans. They’re everything for us. We come in here to play baseball and enjoy the fans," Arraez said.
The Twins improve to 5-2 after winning series at Milwaukee and at Detroit to start the season. They’ll be off Friday before the series resumes at Target Field Saturday afternoon.