MINNEAPOLIS — Mitch Garver, Byron Buxton and Luis Arraez hit home runs to back another strong start by Jos’e Berr’ios, providing the Minnesota fans plenty to cheer for in their return to Target Field as the Twins beat the Seattle Mariners 10-2 on Thursday.
Berr’ios (2-0), who no-hit Milwaukee over six innings in his first turn, threw two more hitless innings before surrendering his first run of the season in the third. Pulled with two outs in the sixth and a comfortable lead, Berr’ios tipped his cap to the sellout crowd of 9,675 as he strutted off the mound.
Garver had the three-run shot that got the Twins going in their home opener, a straightaway screamer to center field that landed in the living wall of junipers for a 3-1 lead in the third inning against Mariners starter Marco Gonzales (0-1).
The Twins, whose only two losses have been 10th-inning walk-offs, wound up with a season-high 16 hits. Buxton went 3 for 5 with two more extra-base hits, Arraez drove in three runs, and Andrelton Simmons had two of the team’s six doubles.
Gonzalez, who started on opening day for the Mariners and gave up five runs in six innings to San Francisco, was awfully hittable again. He didn’t finish the fifth, allowed nine hits and was charged with seven runs to balloon his ERA to 10.45.
Ty France had two hits and Jos’e Marmolejos homered off Berr’ios, but the Mariners couldn’t keep up with the two-time AL Central champions.
With seating socially distanced and limited by the state to about 25% capacity, the Twins played like the place was full for their warmest home opener – 67 degrees – for a season that started on time since moving into Target Field in 2010. Last year, their first home game was on July 28, a 60-game sprint that was played with the gates closed due to the pandemic.
The afternoon just about had it all for the folks who snagged tickets, including a 16-minute rain delay. Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire tossed out the ceremonial first pitch to his son Toby Gardenhire, now the manager of the Triple-A affiliate St. Paul Saints.
Berr’ios picked off two runners, the first Twins pitcher to do so since Kyle Gibson in 2016. Designated hitter Nelson Cruz even beat out a slow roller for an infield single, taking first base in the sixth inning with a big grin.
Some of the customers in the club section fired up an “MVP” chant for Buxton, who batted in the cleanup spot and has three doubles and four homers in six games.
The Twins were set to have COVID-19 shots available for players and key staff after the game, with Major League Baseball seeking an 85% vaccination rate before relaxing virus protocols.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton is seeking additional opinions on his MRI test results after a strained left forearm limited him to 24 pitches in his first start on Tuesday. … OF Jake Fraley (strained left hamstring) might not be out as long as initially expected, manager Scott Servais said. Fraley was also hurt on Tuesday, on a diving catch. … 1B Evan White, removed from the game on Wednesday with tightness in his left quadriceps, was out of the lineup but could avoid the injured list.
Twins: 3B Josh Donaldson (mild right hamstring strain), who is eligible to come off the injured list on Monday, has been a batting practice “machine” and a “treadmill monster,” manager Rocco Baldelli said, without committing to a return date.
“Trying to edge your way back while playing Major League Baseball while not at 100 percent with a muscle injury is a very, very dangerous thing, so what we want to do is make sure he’s good to go first, healthy, and then we can start to test him and push him,” Baldelli said.
Mariners: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 4.50 ERA) will pitch on Saturday, following the customary weather-contingency off day.
Twins: RHP Michael Pineda (1-0, 0.00 ERA) takes the mound for the middle game of the series.