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Blue Jays whips Twins on Opening Night

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The Canadian Press
4/2/2011 3:01:47 AM
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TORONTO -- Toronto's regular-season opener had the same feel as the Blue Jays' glory days in the early 1990's.

There was plenty of offence, the Rogers Centre was packed, even Roberto Alomar and Pat Gillick were in the house. The raucous sellout crowd loved every minute of it as the Blue Jays opened their 2011 campaign with a 13-3 rout of the Minnesota Twins.

Rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia hit two of Toronto's four home runs and Ricky Romero pitched six-plus solid innings to give John Farrell his first win as a big-league manager. He said his club fed off the energy from the 47,984 fans in attendance.

"Tonight is Game 1," Farrell said. "We'll certainly invite 'em all back again tomorrow."

The Blue Jays led the major leagues in home runs last season and they still have plenty of pop in the lineup. However, Farrell is preaching a philosophy that focuses more on a combination of power, speed and aggressive baserunning.

Rajai Davis showed the team's new offensive look early on. He legged out an infield single in Toronto's opening at-bat to kickstart a four-run first inning. Davis was nearly picked off first but instead survived a rundown by sliding back to the bag on a high throw.

After a Yunel Escobar single, the duo teamed up for a double steal and both later scored. It's the kind of effort that Farrell wants to see from the younger, faster squad that general manager Alex Anthopoulos has assembled for the 2011 campaign.

"The first inning was probably as good as we could have drawn it up as far as executing to the situation at hand," Farrell said.

Before the game, Hall of Fame banners were unveiled for Alomar and Gillick, both key cogs in the team's World Series wins in 1992 and 1993. The ceremony, coupled with a boisterous towel-waving crowd, created an electricity in the air that is rarely experienced in the normally sedate stadium.

Romero (1-0) was impressive in his first game as the team's No. 1 starter, giving up one earned run over six-plus innings. Casey Janssen, Jason Frasor and Carlos Villanueva finished up in relief.

Minnesota starter Carl Pavano (0-1) was lit up early and often, as the Jays tagged him for seven earned runs in four-plus innings. He gave up a two-run homer to Arencibia in the fourth inning and a pair of no-doubt solo blasts from right-fielder Jose Bautista and first baseman Adam Lind in the fifth. Arencibia capped the four-run frame with a run-scoring triple and added a solo shot in the eighth.

"For me, it's an indication of what this team can be," Arencibia said. "Obviously it's game one and we need to come back and play hard again tomorrow but that's what we're going to do. We're going to play hard every day."

Romero, meanwhile, kept the Twins at bay until the seventh inning, when he was chased after giving up an RBI double to Alexi Casilla. The young southpaw got a standing ovation from the crowd for his seven-hit, seven-strikeout performance, and he waved his hat in appreciation on the walk to the dugout.

He said his teammates took the pressure off with their strong offensive play.

"It's just a little taste and hopefully we continue to build on this," Romero said.

Arencibia and Bautista paced Toronto's 12-hit attack with three hits apiece.

"We didn't follow the plan very well pitching," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "They swing the bats and if you keep throwing the ball out over the plate they're going to kill you. We didn't do a very good job of that tonight."

Canadian slugger Justin Morneau played his first regular-season game since suffering a concussion during a game against the Jays on July 7. The New Westminster, B.C., native went 0-for-4 and left three runners on base. Toronto improved its all-time record to 18-17 on opening day while Minnesota fell to 24-27.

Notes: Romero's first pitch -- a ball -- was thrown at 7:36 p.m. Eastern Time. He went on to retire the side in order. ... Bautista was presented with a Silver Slugger Award before the game. He led the major leagues with 54 home runs last year. ... Anthopoulos said that the team will not exercise an option on second baseman Aaron Hill's complicated contract. The move essentially frees the Jays from the 2014 option year, but they still have until this fall to decide on Hill's options for 2012 and 2013. ... The game took two hours 45 minutes to play.

Jose Bautista (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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