Twins drop opener

Published 11:58 pm Monday, April 6, 2015

DETROIT — Torii Hunter’s first game back with the Minnesota Twins ended with the outfielder yelling at plate umpire Joe West.

Hunter was livid after West ruled he swung at strike three for the final out of Minnesota’s 4-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Monday. The Twins had a hard time doing anything offensively in their first game under manager Paul Molitor, but they had two on when Hunter struck out against Joe Nathan.

As West walked off the field, Hunter argued he checked his swing.

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“I think he had dinner reservations or a concert to play in,” Hunter said. “But that was terrible. We come out and do our job every day — that’s what I do. I come ready to play, do my job, I battle at the plate. We ask you to do your job as well, and Joe West needs to do his job, and he didn’t do it well.”

West’s reply was pretty straightforward.

“I thought he swung, so I said he swung,” the veteran umpire said. “They’re all great players, and any time you get called out at the end of the game on something like that, they’re going to be upset, so I understand that.”

David Price came within one out of a shutout for Detroit, spoiling Molitor’s debut in charge of the Twins. He took over when Ron Gardenhire was fired at the end of last season.

“I was just trying not to be a hindrance to us winning the game,” Molitor said. “I was trying to do the right things and put the players in the right positions. But when you get beat by a good pitcher, there’s not a lot you can do.”

Price retired the first 13 Minnesota batters and allowed five hits before being pulled with two on and two out. Nathan got the save.

J.D. Martinez and Alex Avila homered off Phil Hughes, and Detroit’s Yoenis Cespedes reached above the wall in left to catch Kurt Suzuki’s drive in the third.

The Tigers acquired Price at last year’s trade deadline, and manager Brad Ausmus picked him to start the first game, snapping Justin Verlander’s seven-year streak of openers.

Price is crucial to the Tigers’ hopes of winning a fifth straight AL Central title, especially after Max Scherzer left via free agency and signed with Washington. The left-hander did not allow a baserunner Monday until Kennys Vargas singled in the fifth.

Martinez opened the scoring with a homer in the second, and Avila’s two-run shot later in the inning made it 3-0.

Hughes allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked one.

Hunter, who spent the last two seasons with the Tigers, got a nice ovation before the game. He signed as a free agent with the Twins, going back to the team he played for from 1997-2007.

“David Price was awesome,” Hunter said. “One of the best lefties in the game, in and out, hard, soft, he had us off balance.”


Molitor is only the third manager for the Twins since Tom Kelly took over in 1986. Gardenhire replaced Kelly in 2002.

“My biggest area of anxiety was about missing things,” Molitor said. “I wasn’t worried about playing the right people or getting the right pitchers in the game. But you want to be sharp in terms of your timing and being clear minded about your strategy and using your bench. But I thought I did that pretty well.”


The Tigers traded for Cespedes in the offseason, parting with right-hander Rick Porcello in the deal. The new outfielder made a solid first impression, especially when he got back to the wall and robbed Suzuki.

“He just missed making a catch like that in my last start in spring training,” Price said. “It kind of just bounced off his glove. But that one, it was awesome.”


Twins: Minnesota avoided any significant injury problems heading into the season. On Monday, CF Jordan Schafer crashed into the wall while trying to catch a triple by Cespedes. He was fine and stayed in the game.

Tigers: Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez both made it back for opening day after offseason surgery. Cabrera had an ankle operation, and Martinez injured a knee. They missed a chunk of the exhibition season. Cabrera was hitless Monday, while Martinez contributed an eighth-inning single.


After an off day Tuesday, Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez faces Minnesota RHP Ricky Nolasco on Wednesday.