Hunter looks to build off a big night at the plate when the Twins wrap up their season-opening three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Hunter hit a grand slam and matched his career high with six RBIs in Minnesota’s 13-4 win over Toronto Wednesday. The 30-year-old center fielder went 4-for-5 and scored three runs for the Twins (1-1), who bounced back from Tuesday’s season-opening 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays.
Hunter hit 14 homers and drove in 56 runs last season, but missed the final two months after breaking his left ankle. Without him, the Twins fell to third place in the AL Central, ending a streak of three straight division titles.
“I’m anxious,” said Hunter, the longest-tenured player on the team. “I’ve been hungry all offseason trying to get back out there, trying to get healthy. I’m still rehabbing to this day, but I’m just happy to be out there. When you break your ankle and you are out two months that tells you that you don’t want to retire any time soon. I’m a competitor and I want to play and that’s what you saw tonight.”
Hunter, who is in the last season of his contract, now has five career grand slams and three six-RBI games. His last grand slam came on June 1, 2005 against Cleveland, also the last time he drove in six runs.
“This year I feel like I’m better at the plate,” said Hunter, who said his goal is a 30-30 season. “Every year I make adjustments.”
“I’ve been hearing that we don’t score a lot of runs but I think we shocked a lot of people today,” Hunter said.
New acquisitions Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay hit back-to-back homers in the first inning for the Blue Jays (1-1), who committed two errors for the second straight game. Outfielder Vernon Wells committed his first error since Sept. 29, 2004 on a wild throw in the fourth inning.
Toronto starter Gustavo Chacin looks to slow the Twins’ offense in the series finale. Chacin is coming off a promising rookie season, in which he went 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA. His only start against Minnesota came last May 19, when he allowed four earned runs and seven hits in five innings of a 4-0 loss.
Toronto manager John Gibbons is confident the 25-year-old left-hander can repeat last season’s success.
“It’s always tough when they get to know you a little bit, but he has the stuff to be successful,” Gibbons said.
Chacin faces Minnesota’s Carlos Silva, who went 9-8 with a 3.44 ERA last season. Silva, who pitched through a torn meniscus in his right knee, walked just nine batters in 188 1-3 innings.
Silva is making his first career start against Toronto.
Both Chacin and Silva pitched for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.