Bonser struggles early in loss

Bonser struggles early in loss

MINNEAPOLIS -- With so many new additions and players still unfamiliar with each other, the Twins were bound to run into some trouble in the early part of the season.

That was the case on Tuesday, when the team saw things slowly start to fall apart in a 9-1 loss to the Angels at the Metrodome.

"The kind of team they are, they keep coming at you," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the Angels. "And every inning for the last four or five, it seemed like they had men all over the place. That's a great baseball team and it's why they are picked to do a lot of good things, they can keep coming at you."

The Twins fell behind early in the contest as right-hander Boof Bonser got off to a bit of a shaky start, showing some first outing jitters.

After recording a quick lineout to the first batter he faced, Bonser gave up three consecutive hits, which included back-to-back RBI doubles from Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson.

"I was just out there, trying to get that first inning under the belt," Bonser said. "I wasn't really hitting my spots in the first."

Bonser (0-1) seemed to settle in after that streak of hits, as he retired 10 of the next 11 batters that he faced. It wasn't until the fifth inning when the Angels finally got to the starter again.

Catcher Mike Napoli hit a solo home run over the center-field fence to lead off the fifth. A throwing error by shortstop Adam Everett with one out in the inning allowed Chone Figgins to reach base and he scored on a single by Guerrero to left field.

One good sign for the Twins was that Bonser persevered to last six innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on eight hits, while throwing 89 pitches in that span. Last season, Bonser struggled to make it through five innings in the middle of the season. So, to start off the year with that kind of showing was something he looked at as a positive.

"I wish I could have kept going, but for my first outing, I guess that's an improvement," Bonser said. "Last year, I was going five a lot and to go six, that's a big thing for me."

The Twins offense wasn't much help for Bonser as they were shut down by a familiar pitcher and former division foe, Jon Garland. In his Angels debut, Garland (1-0) put on quite a show, allowing just one run on six hits over eight innings.

The right-hander gave up just one hit in his first four innings of work and the Twins struggled to find ways to get men on base. The Twins lone run came in the bottom of the fifth. Delmon Young led off the inning with a single to left field. He was driven home by a two-out single to center by Everett.

"Their guy was really good," Gardenhire said. "We faced him plenty of times, being in this division. Tonight, he used his fastball really well, moving it in and out, and he kept us off balance."

Despite Garland's dominance, the Twins remained in the game until their bullpen took over in the seventh.

That's when things really started to get ugly.

Right-hander Jesse Crain made his first appearance since May 15 of last season, after he missed the rest of the season due to shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and a torn rotator cuff. He gave up a double to Figgins and walked Guerrero with two outs in the seventh before Dennys Reyes came in to face Anderson.

Anderson delivered an RBI single up the middle and that was just the start of five runs that the Twins 'pen would give up over the next three innings.

Right-hander Brian Bass then found trouble in his Major League debut, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits in 1 1/3 innings. Juan Rincon came in to pitch the ninth and he got off to a real rocky start, hitting former Twins center fielder Torii Hunter in the left elbow with the first pitch that he threw.

Rincon claimed afterward that the pitch was not intentional, although Hunter wasn't so sure.

"Maybe, maybe not," Hunter said when asked if he thought Rincon was throwing at him. "I kind of have mixed feelings. When he came [to the Twins], we clicked pretty good. Maybe they had a bet on who would hit Torii first."

The poor pitching was in part to blame for the game falling apart late for the Twins. But a lack of defense was also a large factor in the Angels getting a total of 14 men on base over the last three innings.

A few missed plays in the field were costly for the Twins, including a botched double-play by second baseman Brendan Harris in the eighth inning. Harris tried to flip the ball after fielding a hard liner on the ground, but the Twins ended up getting no outs on the play.

Overall, Gardenhire said it was a disappointing night following a strong Opening Day victory over the Angels.

"We couldn't get outs and then the game gets out of whack," Gardenhire said. "When the innings start getting long out there and you're getting a lot of men on base, funny things happen. One of those games where I hope there are not a lot of those this year. That would be ugly."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.