Twins' bats come alive in victory over Tigers

Joe Oberle, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- After scoring a combined five runs in their first two games, the Minnesota Twins found their offense in the third game of the season.
The Twins pounded out two home runs among their 10 hits and defeated the Detroit Tigers, 8-2, on Thursday at Target Field.
Josh Willingham hit his first home of the season, a two-run shot in the third inning, and Trevor Plouffe hit his first, a solo homer in the fourth, to spark the offense.
Minnesota earned the series win thanks to three solid pitching performances from a rebuilt staff that entered the season with question marks.
"You hope. We break camp; we like the pitchers. We like their arms. Now it's about getting it down on the field," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "These first three pitchers have all given us good performances. We know it's a long season, we know we have a long way to go, but it's a good start. Three good starts in a row is good for our baseball team."
For the third straight game, the Tigers jumped to the early lead and the Twins battled back.
Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey, pitching his first game less than a year after Tommy John surgery, surrendered five hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.
"They told me to shoot for May 1," Pelfrey said about coming back from the injury. "But I have been blessed to come back as fast as I have and feel as good as I do. We got the 'W,' and won the series. There was a lot of good things going on out there."
Pelfrey was undone early by two errors by Joe Mauer and Pedro Florimon that led to two unearned runs.
In the first, Austin Jackson singled down the first-base line. He then stole second, went to third on Mauer's errant throw and scored on Torii Hunter's ground out to short.
In the third, Hunter grounded to Florimon, who made his third low throw of the game to first baseman Justin Morneau. Hunter ended up at second on the error and scored on a Miguel Cabrera single for a 2-0 lead.
The Twins tied it in the bottom of the third when Mauer singled with two outs and scored on Willingham's homer, the Twins' first home run of the season.
Plouffe followed with his fourth-inning solo shot for 3-2 lead.
Detroit starter Rick Porcello allowed three runs on six hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings, including the two homers.
"Rick was alright, in fact, he was pretty good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "There were some of his breaking balls he didn't get a good feel for, they were pretty slippery. When it got it over, he did really well. He ended up coming out of it pretty well. Looked like he got a little bit tired toward the end. (But) he did fine -- the feel for the breaking ball was inconsistent. Other than I thought he was pretty good."
Twins relievers bailed Josh Roenicke out of trouble. With one out and the bases loaded, left-hander Tyler Robertson struck out Prince Fielder, then Casey Fien retired Vic Martinez on a pop out.
"I will take my chances with that scenario every time. On second and third with nobody out and those guys coming up," Leyland said. "I'll take my chances with that every time. We get those opportunities all year long, we'll do good. That's something I don't worry about."
The Tigers bullpen didn't fare so well, as the Twins tacked on five insurance runs to turn a tight game into a blowout.
His control was spotty -- to say the least," Leyland said of Brayan Villarreal, who gave up five runs in the eighth. "He didn't make enough good pitches and his control wasn't good enough today. Threw the ball fine, but his control just wasn't good enough."
Rookie Ryan Pressly, making his major league debut, recorded the final three outs.
NOTES: Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski announced that the team signed reliever Jose Valverde to a minor-league contract. Valverde, the team's closer for the past three seasons, can exercise an out clause if not in the big leagues by May 5. ... The Twins won their first series at home against Detroit since Aug. 31-Sept. 2, 2010. Their previous series win over Detroit was Sept. 22-23, at Comerica Park. ... Twins center-fielder Aaron Hicks laced his first major-league hit, a two-run single, during a five-run eighth inning.

What to Read Next