Twins still excited over home opener

The excitement isn't like it was last year, when the first game at spanking new Target Field was part of the day. But the Twins' 2011 home opener is still cause for excitement for the team's fans.

After spending their first six games of the season on the road, the Twins arrive in Minnesota for their home opener at Target Field on Friday against the A's.

For the second straight season, it will be right-hander Carl Pavano on the mound when the Twins play their first home game in Minnesota.

"It's awesome," Pavano said. "It's the second year I get to throw the first pitch so there's definitely a positive there."

Last year, Pavano's start fell on the Twins' first regular-season game at Target Field.


And what a day it was. Fans flocked to brand-new Target Field to watch the Twins defeat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 on a beautiful spring day under partly cloudy skies in the home opener.

The temperature at game time was 65 degrees. The game was a sellout with 38,145 paid customers. Plus the Twins handed out an additional 1,570 complimentary tickets for a total crowd of 39,715.

The Twins were playing their first outdoor home game since their last season at Met Stadium back in 1981.

Pavano (0-1, 15.75 ERA) will start Friday's opener of the three-game series against Oakland lefty Brett Anderson (0-0, 1.50) . Last year the Twins couldn't know that the new ballpark would yield 118 home runs, one of the lowest totals in the Majors. With season No. 2 at Target Field beginning, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said his players need to focus on what they can and can't control -- which includes the number of homers hit.

"All we heard about was how the ball doesn't carry," Gardenhire said at the close of Spring Training. "I think you know and I know that it doesn't carry. So we got away from that as best as we could. We talked about forgetting about it and just playing and hitting the ball hard and seeing where it goes. And that was a huge adjustment for us."

After one full season at Target Field, Gardenhire hopes his squad continues to take that approach. He also hopes Target Field plays similarly to last season.

"I honestly hope it plays about the same because we won (53) games, and I kind of like winning [53] games at home," Gardenhire said. "That's not a bad theory either."

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