This Week in Baseball

Baseball Report

By Bob Hurst

They’re finally out of the Metrodome, but can the Minnesota Twins find the same success at new Target Field that they had in their old digs?

The Twins opened their new stadium in Minneapolis on Monday with a 5-2 win over the Boston Red Sox. Minnesota’s Jason Kubel hit the first home run in the new ballpark and Carl Pavano got the win before 39,715 fans.

“I’ve been waiting a long time,” said Twins catcher Joe Mauer, who grew up in neighboring St. Paul. “It’s definitely a special place, and I’m glad it’s here.”

Minnesota began play in 1961 at Metropolitan Stadium in suburban Bloomington after the franchise moved from Washington. The Twins relocated to downtown Minneapolis to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 1982, where they shared the stadium with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.

The new open-air stadium in Minneapolis will have its share of bad weather, something the Twins didn’t have to worry about in the old dome. And visiting teams won’t miss the roof or the bad hops. Now the Twins have to find new ways to frustrate their opponents.

13’s enough: Thirteen runs is sometimes a lot for two games, but the Arizona Diamondbacks achieved that in just one inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday.

The 13-run outburst in the fourth inning in Phoenix set a franchise-record, and was aided by three home runs from Edwin Jackson, Chris Young and Kelly Johnson. Jackson, a pitcher, had two of the Diamondbacks eight hits in the inning, and scored two runs.

Aurilia retires: Former San Francisco Giants infielder Rich Aurilia has announced his retirement. Aurilia had a career batting average of .275 with 186 home runs and 756 RBIs in a 15-year career that began and ended with the Giants.

Strasburg debut: Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in last June’s draft, won his minor league debut over the weekend. Pitching for Washington’s Class AA Harrisburg, Strasburg threw five innings, allowing one earned run and four hits with eight strikeouts. His fastball was timed at 97-98 mph. Harrisburg beat Altoona 6-4.

“There are things I need to work on. Hopefully my time will come soon,” Strasburg said.

Vintage Bradley: Milton Bradley is at it again. After yet another “fresh start,” with his new team, the Seattle Mariners, Bradley didn’t take long to lose control of his emotions. In the season opener at Oakland last week, Bradley broke his bat after smashing it to the ground in frustration following a strikeout. He was booed by his former fans the entire game.

Last Friday night at Texas, another one of Bradley’s former clubs, the outfielder flipped off heckling fans during the fourth inning.

Bradley, 31, is with his eighth team in 11 seasons. He had just one hit in his first 22 at-bats for an .045 average.

In spring training with the Mariners last month, Bradley talked about being the bad guy.

“If I was a musician, I’d be Kanye West,” Bradley said. “If I was in the NBA, I’d be Ron Artest. In baseball, they’ve got Milton Bradley. I’m that guy. You need people like me, so you can point your finger and go, ‘There goes the bad guy.'”

Not his specialty, but… Andruw Jones is used to pinch-hitting, and he hadn’t had much success at it, going 9-for-50 (.180) as a pinch-hitter before Sunday. But his entrance into the game at the plate for the Chicago White Sox in the eighth inning on Sunday resulted in the game game-winning hit in a 5-4 win over Minnesota.

And former White Sox slugger Jim Thome pinch-hit in the ninth for the Twins, driving a ball to deep left-center field. J.J. Hardy was thrown out by a mile at the plate on the play, ending the game.

StatsWatch: Home run leaders (through Monday’s games) —

Vernon Wells, Blue Jays, 5

Nelson Cruz, Rangers, 5

Albert Pujols, Cardinals, 5

Alex Gonzalez, Blue Jays, 4

Jose Guillen, Royals, 4

Quotable: “I have a really good friendship with Mark McGwire. I’m proud of him. I’m proud of what he did. I’m happy for him.” — Barry Bonds, when asked what he thought about McGwire’s admission to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Diamond Notes: The Houston Astros were the only winless team in the major leagues through Monday at 0-7…Former San Francisco player Marvin Benard has admitted that he used steroids in 2002 to deal with a left knee injury…Roy Halladay became the first pitcher to hurl a complete game in Philadelphia’s 2-1 win over the Astros on Sunday…Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake, starting Sunday’s game against the Chicago Cubs, became the 21st player since the draft began in 1965 to play in the major leagues without appearing in a minor league game…Barry Bonds said he coached the Phillies Ryan Howard over the winter in Florida at Howard’s request.

Copyright © 2010  Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.