Matsui comes up big in Angels' opening win over Twins

The Sports Network

4/6/2010 1:54:24 AM

Anaheim, CA (Sports Network) - Hideki Matsui made an immediate impact with his new team as he drove in the game-winning run and added a solo home run to help the LA Angels of Anaheim take a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins in the season-opener for both teams.

Matsui, the World Series MVP from last season, was signed as a free agent in the offseason and paid dividends right away as he hit an RBI single in the fifth and added a leadoff home run in the eighth inning.

"I'm glad we got the win and I was happy that I helped get the win," said Matsui.

Kendry Morales added a solo home run and went 2-for-4 while Erick Aybar went 2-for-3 with two runs for the Angels, who also got a solo home run from Jeff Mathis and an RBI from Juan Rivera. Jered Weaver (1-0) went six innings in the start and gave up three runs on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts.

"It's awesome having Godzilla (Matsui) on the team," said Weaver. "I just tried to stay within myself tonight and Mathis helped me a lot. It was an honor to get this victory in our 50th Opening Day."

The Angels are hoping to build on last season as the team that won 97 games and their third straight AL West title, then beat the Red Sox in the ALDS before losing to the Yankees in six games in the ALCS.

Delmon Young clubbed a two-run home run while Nick Punto drove in the other run for the Twins, who got a 1-for-4 effort from the reigning AL MVP Joe Mauer. Scott Baker (0-1) was tagged for four runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings.

"This was a disappointing ballgame," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "We walked two in the first inning and they both turned into runs. We had some chances, but Weaver kept us off balance."

The Twins last season rallied from seven games back of Detroit on September 6 to finish the season with a 17-4 run to force a one-game playoff, which they won to capture the AL Central title. However, the team was then swept in three games by the Yankees.

The Angels jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on back-to-back RBI singles from Morales and Rivera.

Minnesota countered in the second inning as Justin Morneau led off with an infield single and, two outs later, Young crushed a 1-1 fastball over the fence in left.

With one out in the bottom of the second, Mathis hit the first pitch he saw just over the wall in center for a 3-2 lead.

In the fifth, Young led off with an infield single, stole second, moved to third on a J.J. Hardy groundout and scored when Nick Punto lofted a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game.

The Angels, though, grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Aybar beat out an infield single and, after Bobby Abreu popped out, Torii Hunter walked. Matsui followed with a single to right to plate Aybar for a 4-3 lead.

The Twins loaded the bases in the sixth, but it was with two outs and Young flied out to end the inning.

Kevin Jepsen took the mound for the seventh. Hardy led off with a single, but Jepsen then got pinch-hitter Jim Thome to ground out and Denard Span to strike out. Orlando Hudson kept the inning alive as he was hit by a pitch and Mauer hit a single to load the bases, but Morneau lined out to end the frame.

With Fernando Rodney on the mound in the eighth, Michael Cuddyer worked a leadoff walk, but Jason Kubel popped out and Young hit into a double play.

The Angels got their insurance in the eighth on back-to-back home runs from Matsui and Morales for a 6-3 advantage.

Brian Fuentes worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the save.

Game Notes: Abreu, who went 0-for-4 in the game, had hit safely in his previous 13 Opening Day games...The Angels have won six of their last season openers and improved to 27-23 on the first day of the season. Also, the team is now 23-27 in home openers...The Twins fell to 24-26 on Opening Day...Minnesota left seven men on base...The Angels have won four straight and seven of eight against the Twins.