2013 Game 1: Defending AL Champs at Offending AL Basement Dwellers

First Pitch—3:10 p.m. Central
Probable Starters—Justin "Cy" Verlander vs. Vance "Can't Dance" Worley
Probable Outcome—Try not to think about it too much

“Awright, ladies!” Ron Gardenhire bellowed as he stuck his head inside the clubhouse door. “Stick your cups in your pants and hit the field, batting practice starts in five minutes!”

Inside, the entire Twins’ 25-man roster stood in a somber circle at the center of the room. Gardenhire walked over and nudged his way inside the group, only to see a battered old steamer trunk sitting on the floor.

“So it finally got here,” the manager muttered as he rubbed his whiskered chin. “About damn time, too.”

Aaron Hicks looked back and forth between Gardenhire and the trunk. “What is it, Skipper?” he asked. “The clubhouse guy just dragged it in a few minutes ago, said it was the last thing to come off the truck from spring training.”

“That’s a hope chest, son,” said the white-haired manager. “We haven’t had one of these show up here since the home opener two or three years ago. I've heard that the Cubs only get one every ten or twenty years.”

“But what’s inside?” asked Hicks, his curiosity gnawing at him like a hound at a hambone.

“That depends,” said Gardenhire as he pushed his cap back on his head. “Everybody sees something different in there. You’ll see whatever you hope for. But just remember, nothing inside that trunk is real unless you have what it takes to make it real out on the field, and that only happens one time out of a hundred, maybe a thousand. But we might as well see what’s in there.”

With that the manager stepped forward, unclasped the latches and pulled open the lid. A few of the players let out small gasps as they looked inside, but most stood silent for a few minutes, taking in the jumble of artifacts and picking out which might belong to them. At about the same time Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau stepped forward and reached inside, each picking out a World Series ring and silver bat, clutching them tightly in as they turned and headed toward their lockers.

Aaron Hicks stuck his trembling paw into the chest and pulled out a Rookie of the Year trophy. Pedro Floriman picked up a stack of 150 lineup cards, each one with his named penciled in at shortstop. Brian Dozier reached deep into the chest and pulled out a bronze glove, for even he knew that a gold one was too much to hope for. Vance Worley snagged a handful of 20 Wins, and Ryan Doumit grabbed a box full of 30 home run balls. Trevor Plouffe selected a bat with the word Consistency on the label and a lightning bolt seared into the barrel. One by one each of the players took something from the chest and ambled out of the room and down the tunnel to the open expanse of green field. Only Wilkin Ramirez left without bothering to take something from the trunk, for he was already wearing the uniform of a major league baseball team on Opening Day.

After a few minutes only Gardenhire remained. Staring intently into the depths of the box, he heaved a heavy sigh. “Ain’t that always the way,” he muttered to himself. “It only takes one day for that damn trunk to get as empty as Kauffman Stadium in September.” He reached inside and picked up one of the last remaining items, a brand new three-year contract, then turned and headed toward the dugout.

A few minutes later, Terry Ryan and Tom Kelly walked through the clubhouse on their way to the field and saw the open trunk. Together they shuffled over and looked inside. Curious, Ryan reached down and pulled out the lineup card for Opening Day and saw Joe Mauer’s name slotted as the second hitter. He looked at the card a long moment, and then at TK. “Well, what do you know about that, Mauer batting second” he said, handing the card to the former manager. “There may be some hope for this team after all.”

Tom Kelly took a few puffs of his cigar, glanced at the card and slowly shook his head as he dropped it back into the trunk. “I wouldn’t count on it, Terry,” he said as they both turned and headed toward the door. “You know as well as I do that hope is tomorrow’s starting pitcher.”

211 thoughts on “2013 Game 1: Defending AL Champs at Offending AL Basement Dwellers”

    Austin Jackson, CF
    Torii Hunter, RF
    Miguel Cabrera, 3B
    Prince Fielder, 1B
    Victor Martinez, DH
    Andy Dirks, LF
    Jhonny Peralta, SS
    Alex Avila, C
    Omar Infante, 2B
    Justin Verlander, P
    Aaron Hicks, CF
    Joe Mauer, C
    Josh Willingham, LF
    Justin Morneau, 1B
    Ryan Doumit, DH
    Trevor Plouffe, 3B
    Chris Parmelee, RF
    Brian Dozier, 2B
    Pedro Florimon, SS
    Vance Worley, P

  2. Fulham is up 3-1 at halftime. I have just enough time to squeeze in a shower before first pitch. The afternoon is going very well.

    1. Ugh. QPR just got one back and the library called. My book is in, but they're closed tomorrow and close tonight at 6, so I either have to miss some of the game or wait until Wednesday.

  3. Gardenhire said he and new Twins hitting coach Tom Brunansky liked the dynamic of a batting order that forced a pitcher to deal with Hicks, Mauer and left fielder Josh Willingham in the first inning.

    "As Bruno and I talked, we talked about 'ambush,' " Gardenhire said. "So we're going to ambush 'em at the top with all these hitters and go from there. At least for today. We can always adjust as we go along."

    Getting a new perspective on the coaching staff can be good for positive change.

  4. From the 4ltr preview:

    Worley is getting the start almost by default. He was 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in six spring training appearances, but Scott Diamond and Samuel Deduno aren't healthy enough to start the season with the big club and the rest of the rotation was underwhelming this spring as well.

    Right, because if he hadn't strained his groin, Duderino would have been the Opening Day starter.

    1. Two batters into the season and I am reminded of the constant state of exasperation I had when watching the boys last year.

  5. Worley's wearing short sleeves in this weather - I like the cut of his jib already. Prince Fielder, on the other hand, looks like he's getting ready to make a snowman.

    1. Prince Fielder, on the other hand, looks like he’s getting ready to make a snowman.

  6. Looks like we're going to need a lot of offense, but something tells me Verlander's not going to get ambushed.

  7. No matter what else, I like Hicks taking the third pitch against Verlander after 2 strikes.

    Also, wonderful entry Twayn.

    Also, I'm worried that might not be a Hope Chest, it might be one of them "Pandora's Boxes."

  8. Love Bert's scouting report on Jhonny Peralta: "He's one of these guys, if the ball's hit to him, he'll field it and make the throw."

      1. I was thinking there should be an annual fielding award for guys like Peralta. You know, a small statue of some kind. Maybe of Derek Jeter.

    1. They wouldn't have under their own abilities.
      Plus: you try going back and adding that in to the database.

      1. And if the pitcher threw strikes, they wouldn't get on with a walk either. Given the guesswork that goes into assigning errors, I'd rather give the batter the benefit of the doubt.

        1. I agree with you. You can't make an error if the batter doesn't hit the ball. I'd be in favor of eliminating errors altogether as a statistic and count them all as hits, assuming no fielder's choice is involved.

  9. Whee! MLB.com got removed from the banned sites list at work! I can track the Twins on Gameday!

    glances at score, shrugs

    Whoo-hoo! Baseball!

    1. I can't believe you still can track that guy down. How you can willingly sift through TJ and his garbage is beyond me.

  10. I like the 52 pitches for Verlander already (with what, only 3 guys getting on base?). Not that that means he won't throw 130 pitches and go all 9 innings, but it's a nice sign that the lineup has some patience.

  11. First time I'm listening to the new FM signal. Sounds like crap.
    Comes in crystal clear, despite being in the middle of a building, but sounds like crap.

    Spoiler SelectShow
    1. My wife was like, "What the heck is the game doing on FM!?! Is it still on AM too?" I told her I didn't think so, but that typically an FM signal is better. She listened for a second and then gave me a look that said, "Really?"

    1. What exactly is that picture? It looks like a doctor getting ready to do a proctology exam.

  12. It appears that the Vanimal is settling down. Pitch count may be high, but still in this game, sort of.

      1. I don't expect him to hit like Ted Williams just yet, but he is looking a bit green today. Verlander has a way of doing that to guys, though.

        1. He struck out on a nasty curve, a fastball, and a nasty slider. The only one I would complain about was the fastball down the middle, but after the curve in the first AB and hitting against Verlander in the shadows at the time, it's understandable.

  13. First play I see live this season was "nice play" by Dozier according to both Dick and Bert. Glad to know everything is going to be those rose-colored glasses again this season.

    1. I guess our infield is where double plays go to die, third blown DP opportunity today.

    1. Happy but surprised. With this cold weather it's probably a smart call, but not one I expected the Marlboro Man to make.

  14. On the one hand, pinch-hitting for Florimon is good. On the other, why not just use Carroll since he's going to go in defensively anyway?

    1. He hit .364 in 10 games for the Tigers in 2009?! How could they ever have let him get away?!

        1. There's also an 'Easter egg' version if you're feeling especially frustrated/sarcastic.

  15. I'm fifteen minutes late with the dog's dinner, but he's been letting me know it for the last half hour.

  16. Did Dick seriously claim Willingham struggled against LHP last year?! A .920 OPS with a .333 ISO is struggling? Oh, right, that .231 batting average.

    Yup, he struggled.

  17. Let's get more out of this bases loaded situation than last time.

    Also, Al Albuquerque is my favorite first name-last name combo in the majors right now.

  18. You know what would be nice here? A grand freaking slam, that's what. Make it so, Doumit.

  19. Well that was a letdown.

    Also, why are they asking Tyler Robertson about the Twins-Tigers rivalry?

  20. So we underperformed on run expectancy by .596 runs that inning. Nice job, Trevor. Nice job, Chris.

    1. Listening on radio, so I wasn't sure. I know Willingham isn't the most fleet of foot. How dead to rights would he have been after Doumit's single?

      1. it was a solid hit to LF dude. He probably would have been out (80-90%, cause you never know about an errant throw)

      2. I think he'd have been dead meat. It was a fairly shallow hit, and with one out holding him was the right call.

  21. Okay, Fielder's slide at home plate was pretty funny. That's going to make a great animated GIF.

    1. If you consider Leinenkugels' Summer Shandy as a craft beer, you're doing it wrong.

      1. Leinie's is rapidly gaining favor here by folks who would otherwise be drinking Miller Lite...I guess it's a step in the right direction.

        1. Leinie's makes some decent beers. The Honey Weiss is really popular with the women folk around here, and I'm kind of partial to their Oktoberfest.

          1. Oh, their imperial IPA is fantastic. (One of the good Big Eddy series of highbrow beers.)

            I bought a Leinie's variety 12-pack near Christmas that had three bottles of the berry shandy. There's still two bottles of that in my fridge. Maybe once summer comes, I'll be really hot one day and decide that over icewater. Or a sucker will visit and drink it.
            I don't understand the market though. Who likes beer so little that they want it overpowered with those flavors but isn't willing to just go for a wine cooler?

            1. Who likes beer so little that they want it overpowered with those flavors but isn’t willing to just go for a wine cooler?

              have you heard of Zima?

            2. It's sort of a 'gateway beer'. Linds absolutely despised beer - all beers - until she had some Berry Shandy when we toured the Leinie's brewery last October. This past weekend, she came to the horrifying realization that she likes other beers, as well. In particular, she enjoys their Canoe Paddler (a kolsch-like beer).

              No hops or deep malts yet, but it's a start.

      2. Did you hear the Twins Geek on the latest podcast raving about some new beer from 612 Brewery, saying it will be as good as Leine's Summer Shandy?

        1. You read TJ, follow StatFreak on the Twitters, and still listen to the TwinsGeek. You really are a glutton for punishment.

    1. Grilled chicken, lemons, and potatoes here. I can't comment on how winning it tastes, but it sure smells like a winner.

      1. Swap out the spuds for jasmine rice, toss the chicken with some Greek seasoning, and you're describing a staple around Chez Hayes.

    2. And I went to The Weary Traveler for the first time, drank some stout from House of Brews, a couple Hopakiciouses and had a tasty goulash.

  22. What the hell, it's too cold for fireworks and puppies anyway. Baseball is back and that's enough for me today.

    1. Mauer with a couple knocks and a walk. They don't get blown out. In a season of low expectations, not a terrible night.

      1. Mauer should have had 3 hits, but the hometown scorer gave an error.

        the Twins werent shut out had some chances against the Tiger bullpen. Not a win, but not deflating.

  23. Twins pitchers with 8 Ks in a game that neither Perkins nor Burton pitched. Fien looked terrific.

  24. Well, the Twins nearly completed the stirring comeback that would have propelled them to a 162-0 season, but it was not to be. So, we start the season 0-1, the same record as the Yankees, the Rangers, the Reds, and the Giants, among others. I guess the perfect season will have to wait until next year. For this year, we'll just have to settle for 161-1!

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