Minnesota newcomer Marwin Gonzalez hit a two-run double in the seventh inning, Jose Berrios outdueled Corey Kluber and the Twins gave manager Rocco Baldelli a win in his debut, starting the season by beating the Cleveland Indians 2-0 Thursday.
Berrios set a Twins opening day record with 10 strikeouts, with the 24-year-old right-hander picking up where he left off as an All-Star in 2018. The youngest opening day starter for the Twins since Brad Radke in 1996, Berrios allowed just two hits and one walk in 7 2/3 innings with his curveball in prime form. Then Taylor Rogers recorded the last four outs for the save, stretching his scoreless streak to 27 straight innings.
Kluber hardly deserved defeat, after retiring the first 14 batters he faced until Gonzalez drew a walk. Byron Buxton broke up the no-hit bid with a one-out double in the sixth. Then the Twins took the lead in the seventh solely with hits by new players, singles by Nelson Cruz and C.J. Cron and then the game-breaker by Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, the multi-position player who spent seven years with Houston and signed with Minnesota more than a week into spring training, hit a 0-1 changeup from Kluber that landed in left-center. Gonzalez will have more of a home than usual for the first month of the season, handling third base for the injured Miguel Sano.
The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner making his fifth straight opening day start, the first in club history to do that since Stan Coveleski in 1921, Kluber finished seven innings with four hits allowed.
The AL Central champion Indians played without star shortstop Francisco Lindor and mainstay second baseman Jason Kipnis, both recovering from strained right calf muscles. Eric Stamets struck out twice in his major league debut, playing for Lindor. Recent addition and seventh-year veteran Brad Miller subbed for Kipnis and also struck out twice against Berrios until a two-out single in the eighth prompted a pitching change by Baldelli.
The start of the season produced all kinds of newness, beyond just Baldelli’s debut in the dugout. The Twins unveiled a new backdrop beyond center field, with 5,700 sea green juniper plants now serving as the batter’s eye. The Indians wore uniforms without the divisive Chief Wahoo logo on them for the first time in 70 years.
Indians: Lindor, who started the season on the injured list with a strained right calf and a sprained left ankle, was headed for a second opinion from Dr. Robert Anderson, an ankle and foot specialist in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who has worked extensively with NFL players.
Twins: Sano, who will be out until at least early May while the severe cut near his right Achilles tendon heals, has joined the team and begun off-field workouts. Baseball activities and an eventual minor league rehab assignment will still be a couple of weeks away.
After a day off, the series resumes on Saturday afternoon. The Indians will send RHP Trevor Bauer, coming off a career-best 2018 season with a 2.21 ERA that was the third best in the majors, to the mound. RHP Jake Odorizzi will start for the Twins