Twins 7, Rangers 6 (12 innings)
What game of firsts! Alexi Casilla hit his first HR, a 3-run shot, and has more homers than Delmon Young or Joe Mauer. Bobby Korecky got his first W and, because Gardy threw the kitchen sink at the Rangers in the 9th, his first hit. And new call-up Howie Clark delivered the game-winning hit. Three guys who weren't on the team a few weeks ago came in to clean up a big mess. It feels good now, but this game would have been agonizing to lose.
Boof Bonser recovered from 3 straight shaky starts to get the Twins into the 7th inning with just 2 R allowed on 3 H with 5 K. All 3 hits were for extra bases, including 2 HR, but they were solo shots, and the Twins were leading 5-2. After allowing 2 singles to put runners at 1st and 2nd with one out in the 7th, Rick Anderson came out to talk to Boof. He promptly got the come-backer he needed to start an inning-ending double-play. Unfortunately, he made a terrible throw, and everyone was safe. The next pitch was drilled into left-center for a 2-run single, and the Rangers were back in the game, and Boof was out. Had the Twins lost, they could have once again blamed a failure to execute a fundamental play.
The relief pitching was at turns brilliant and ugly. Obviously, Korecky was magnificent, rescuing Juan Rincon from a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 11th. Rincon allowed a double and a walk, and after starting the next hitter with a ball, Anderson went out to remind him that this was not the time to be tentative. When the next pitch missed, Gardy was so ticked that he tried to take Rincon out mid-batter - which is not allowed; once the coach visits, the pitcher has to finish that AB (you learn something new every day!). Guerrier was terrific in saving Bonser from a jam in the 7th, but then he and Dennys Reyes got knocked around for 2 runs. Joe Nathan needed just 5 pitches to get through the 10th. I guess you don't want to use up your closer in the first game of a series, but I doubt he was tired, and could have come out for the 11th.
Oh well, it all worked out.