Minnesota Twins still looking for season's first winby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
MINNEAPOLIS — You know it's springtime at Target Field because fans are wrapped in heavy fleece sweatshirts, stocking caps, jackets and even parkas. Just about everybody walking through Gate 34 is wearing something with a Minnesota Twins logo on it.
You also know it's April because fans are hopeful about the upcoming baseball season, even after the Twins lost their home opener, 5-1, to the Los Angeles Angels at Target Field Monday, the team's fourth straight loss.
"I am optimistic actually. But I think I would hold my judgment until I get to know some of the new players," Laurie Wolf of Eagan said. "Because there are so many new people."
The Twins had to replace some of the big names that left in the offseason, like Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Joe Nathan.
Newcomer Josh Willingham has already made an impression. After the first four games of the season, he leads the team in all batting categories and hit a 389-foot homerun in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Angels. It was the Twins' only run of the game.
Aside from Willingham, the Twins haven't been able to generate much power. Slugger Justin Morneau has shown signs that he is getting back to his previous form after sitting out much of last year with injuries. However, he finished Monday's game without a hit. Fans held their breath when Morneau was hit in the foot by a pitch during his last turn at bat. He limped slightly to first base and later advanced to second on a base hit.
Mike Rajek of Eau Claire Wisconsin said if the Twins are going to improve this year, Morneau has to stay healthy.
"He's a really good player," Rajek said. "I certainly hope for the benefit of the team and the fans and the Minnesota community at large he can play a whole season and be productive."
The Twins have been outscored by their opponents 20-6 so far this season.
After the game, manager Ron Gardenhire sounded frustrated that Twins hitters apparently left their bats in Florida after spring training.
"Yeah, we want to win a ballgame. You don't want to start — put yourself in a big hole," Gardenhire said. "It's frustrating because we came out of spring training feeling good, playing good. And we haven't played up to that."
The Twins still have 158 more games to play in the regular season. Gardenhire said he's not panicking about an 0 and 4 start.
Twins players also don't sound too worried about repeating last season where the team lost 99 games. Starting pitcher Nick Blackburn gave up five runs to the Angels on five hits. Aside from a few mistakes, Blackburn said he felt good about his performance.
"The way it turned out doesn't really show what I feel like I did today. I'm not saying I was great or anything. But I felt good. I'm pleased with that," Blackburn said. "If I go out there every couple days and pitch like that, I think I'm going to have a lot more success than I did today."
The Twins face the Angels again at Target Field on Wednesday.
- Morning Edition, 04/10/2012, 6:40 a.m.