It's a new season, but the Detroit Tigers ' dominance in Minneapolis continues.
The reigning AL champs will try to keep that going on Wednesday when Anibal Sanchez goes for his first victory at Target Field.
Back to work after getting swept by San Francisco in the World Series, the Tigers, behind ace Justin Verlander , opened the season on Monday with a 4-2 victory. Detroit's closer-by-committee approached worked for one night as Al Albuquerque, Joaquin Benoit and Phil Coke combined to get the final eight outs while giving up just one total hit.
"That's what we're going to have to do, and today it worked out pretty good," manager Jim Leyland told the Tigers' official website.
It's worked out extremely well for Detroit at Target Field, where it has won 16 of 20 by a combined 117-81.
Sanchez, though, is 0-1 with a 4.63 ERA in two starts in Minneapolis, both coming in 2012 after the mid-season deal that brought him and Omar Infante from Miami.
The right-hander went 4-6 with a 3.74 ERA in 12 regular-season starts after the deal, then went 1-2 with a 1.77 ERA three postseason starts. The Tigers were shut out in both of those defeats.
That strong playoff showing led to Sanchez signing a five-year, $80 million deal in December."It's definitely big for us to know Sanchez is coming back," catcher Alex Avila said.
Sanchez, though, had a rough spring, posting a 7.31 ERA in four games. In his second start back following his time with Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, the right-hander was tagged for nine earned runs and 11 hits in Thursday's 11-4 loss to Houston.
The Twins are hoping they can get to Sanchez like that after striking out 12 times and leaving 12 runners on base in the season opener.
"Our pitching kept us in there," third baseman Trevor Plouffe told the Twins' official website. "But it's all about getting those timely hits, and we didn't do that today. But I like where we're at."
It's uncertain where manager Ron Gardenhire will have catcher Joe Mauer in the lineup after he moved the three-time batting champ to the second spot on Monday. Mauer, the usual No. 3 hitter, went 2 for 4 with a double.
"I told Gardy that I don't have a problem wherever he puts me in the lineup, as long as I'm in the lineup," he said.
There's a good chance that will happen on Wednesday as Mauer is 4 for 5 off Sanchez.
The Twins will give the ball to veteran Kevin Correia for the first time. The right-hander, who signed a two-year deal in December, will make his AL debut after going 12-11 in each of the last two seasons with Pittsburgh.
More important from the Twins' perspective is that Correia has made 26 or more starts in each of the last four seasons. Minnesota had nine pitchers make 11 or more starts in 2012 when its rotation had the second-worst ERA in baseball at 5.40.
"When you start cracking his numbers, they're very respectable," general manager Terry Ryan said.
Former Twin Torii Hunter was 2 for 5 with a double in his Tigers debut after going hitless in his previous 12 at-bats at Target Field.
|March 22, 2013||Avisail Garcia||15-Day DL||Bruised right heel|
|March 24, 2013||Tim Wood||15-Day DL||Right rotator cuff strain|
|March 22, 2013||Scott Diamond||15-Day DL||Recovery from left elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||15-Day DL||Fractured ribs|
|February 06, 2013||Anthony Swarzak||Day-to-Day||Fractured ribs|
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota went scoreless against another Detroit starter, and the top of the Tigers lineup was constantly on base.
This time, the Twins finished the rally they failed to complete on opening day. And the last guy off the bench got it done.
Eduardo Escobar 's two-run double with one out in the ninth inning lifted the Twins to a 3-2 victory over the Tigers on Wednesday.
"You lose the first game, and some people think the world is going to end," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "But you get a lot of chances to win baseball games. ... You just have to keep playing, and that's what we did today. It's a big boost out there to get a win under your belt against a great team over there. That was fun baseball."
After Joaquin Benoit issued a leadoff walk to Trevor Plouffe , reliever Phil Coke took over in the ninth. Coke (0-1) recorded the first out, but Brian Dozier 's single advanced pinch-runner Jamey Carroll to third. Then Escobar drove a first-pitch fastball from to the deepest part of the park, where it bounced on the warning track in front of the bullpens in left-center field.
Both runners scored easily as the rebuilding Twins enjoyed their first on-field celebration of the season. They also spoiled another strong Tigers pitching performance, this one by Anibal Sanchez after Justin Verlander threw five shutout innings on Monday.
"He hit it a lot better than I thought," Detroit center fielder Austin Jackson said. "I didn't think it was going out. I kept running, and it seemed like it kept carrying."
The AL Central champion Tigers began the season without a set closer after Jose Valverde wasn't brought back. Coke has been the head of the committee so far. The left-hander notched a two-up, two-down save in the opener.
"That's our plan when we're facing a closer: Get up there ready to hit," Dozier said.
Darin Downs also allowed a run in the sixth on pinch-hitter Wilkin Ramirez 's double, after Tigers relievers gave up runs in shaky sixth and seventh innings on Monday.
Valverde, a three-time All-Star who struggled in the playoffs, became a free agent and wasn't re-signed. Hard-throwing prospect Bruce Rondon was sent to Triple-A. So the bullpen became the biggest concern of the spring for the Tigers in their attempt to return to the World Series - and win it this time.
The gametime temperature was 46 degrees, up 11 from the opener, but the afternoon winds were still whipping across the diamond. The announced attendance was 22,963, the smallest crowd in terms of tickets sold since Target Field opened in 2010.
Sanchez surrendered two hits and three walks while striking out five, a line almost identical to Verlander's on opening day.
Detroit star Miguel Cabrera , the reigning American League MVP and Triple Crown winner, has driven in three runs in two games. He hit a pair of two-out RBI singles, one in the third and one in the fifth. Torii Hunter , the former Twins star, has adjusted well to the No. 2 spot in the batting order with his new team. He hit opposite-field singles right before Cabrera's run-scoring hits.
But Twins starter Kevin Correia otherwise had a fine AL debut. The right-hander got the first two outs in each of those innings. Correia, signed as a free agent after spending the last two seasons with Pittsburgh, finished seven innings and was charged with seven hits and one walk.
Jared Burton pitched a perfect eighth and Glen Perkins (1-0) needed only 10 pitches in a perfect ninth inning for the victory.
"I could've got pinched-hit for in my other league," Correia said. "In one of those games where you're down 2-0, I probably would've got pinched-hit for in the fifth or sixth, so it's nice to have that leeway in order to go back out there."
The Twins had only three hits until the final inning. They scored in the seventh when Plouffe drew a leadoff walk against Downs, stole second and came home when Ramirez, a former Tigers prospect who played 15 games for Detroit in 2009, sent a ground ball down the first-base line that eluded Prince Fielder 's reach.
Escobar's was even bigger.
"I am happy," he said with Ramirez translating. "We don't start the game, so we got to prepare for a situation like this. We are the lucky ones today, me and Wilkin."
NOTES: The previous attendance low at Target Field was last Sept. 10, a crowd of 27,526 for a game against Cleveland. ... Cabrera has 29 RBIs in 29 career games at Target Field. ... Ramirez's RBI was his first in the majors since July 24, 2011, with Atlanta. He's 5 for 12 in his career as a pinch hitter.
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