Monday was another day full of home openers. In Minnesota, Kirby Puckett Jr. was the first fan admitted inside Target Field for the official opening of the ballpark Monday afternoon. He and his mother unveiled the Kirby Puckett statue on Target Plaza just outside one of the gates prior to entering the ballpark. He also represented the family for on-field festivities with Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, and Kent Hrbek. Marco Scutaro of the Boston Red Sox had the first official hit at Target Field off of Twins starter Carl Pavano. However, Twins leadoff hitter Denard Span scored the first run. Jason Kubel hit the first homerun and Joe Mauer collected three hits for the Twins. The Twins beat the Red Sox 5-2 as Jon Rauch collected his fifth save.
In Chicago, the Cubs opened Wrigley Field (which had $10 million done in renovations). Many of the renovations were the new player’s lounge and maybe that helped. The Cubs blasted three homeruns (a three-run blast from Xavier Nady and two-run blasts from Jeff Baker and Aramis Ramirez) to win the opener 9-5 over the visiting Milwaukee Brewers.
Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel once again raised the championship flag in the center field stands. The Phillies players also filed in from the stands onto the field just like last year and were led by Jamie Moyer and Roy Halladay. Phillies starter Cole Hamels struggled into the sixth (he allowed a two-run double to opposing pitcher Jason Marquis) but was helped out by the Phillies offense. The Phillies had a five-run 5th inning that chased the Nationals’ Marquis, which was capped by a Chase Utley two-run homerun. The Phillies bullpen came up strong going 3.1 scoreless innings.
The St. Louis Cardinals opened up Busch Stadium with the usual Clydesdales taking part in the pre-game festivities. Albert Pujols quickly brought the fireworks against the winless Houston Astros. Pujols had an RBI single in the first and blasted a curveball into the left field seats for a three-run homerun in the third. Pujols’ performance backed the dominance of starter Adam Wainwright, who went eight shutout innings while allowing six hits and he struck out seven.
In Seattle, the Mariners had the Big Unit (Randy Johnson) throw out the first pitch before their home opener against the Oakland A’s. However the Mariners were dominated by A’s starter Justin Duchscherer, who won his first game since 2008. The Mariners mustered just two hits in the game to lose 4-0.
In San Diego, the worst offensive team in baseball (the Padres) took out its week’s worth of struggles on Jair Jurrjens and Jo-Jo Reyes of the Atlanta Braves. The Padres scored 17 runs (10 in the fourth) on 19 hits to back San Diego native Kevin Correia.
In Toronto, Blue Jays starter Brian Tallet expected the home crowd to be electric due to the Blue Jays record coming into their home opener (5-1). However the hometown fans saw the visiting Chicago White Sox tie the game in the ninth inning on a Mark Teahen homerun off of Jason Frasor (who blew his second save) and win it in the top of the 11th on Teahen’s RBI triple.
In Florida (where the fans did not come out for their home opener with just a little over 10,000), the Cincinnati Reds won the game in the top of the 10th on an RBI single from third baseman Scott Rolen, who also belted two homeruns in the game. The Marlins had their chance in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded off of Reds reliever Nick Masset but Cody Ross grounded out and sent the game into extra innings.