BALTIMORE -- In an ideal world, Ervin Santana would've pitched seven strong innings to lead the Twins to their first Opening Day win since 2008. Instead, Minnesota's first game of the year was marred by a lengthy rain delay of nearly two hours to open the game, only to see another delay of an hour and 10 minutes come after the second inning that knocked Santana from the game after he had thrown two scoreless frames.
The Twins did what they could without a true long reliever on the roster -- right-handers Ryan Pressly and Trevor May each tossed two scoreless innings in relief -- only to see their best reliever in the second half of last year, Kevin Jepsen, give up a walk-off RBI single to Matt Wieters with two outs in the ninth in a disappointing 3-2 loss that left the Twins winless in their opener for an eighth straight year.
"It was way off script for an Opening Day," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We tried to set things up as best as we could, but part of your challenge every day is to adjust to what's thrown at you, and we were able to piece it together. We found our way back into the game in the seventh there, but it happened quickly like it does in those types of games. You give up a five-pitch walk, and two pitches later, you're walking off the field."
Jepsen had no problems retiring Manny Machado and Adam Jones for the first two outs, but he fell behind Chris Davis, 3-1, and instead of challenging him with a strike, he went away with his fastball for a third straight pitch to walk him. Jepsen said he should've stayed with his approach that he had against Machado and Jones, but he got away from it because of Davis' power.
"You start to change your mentality mid-inning and things start to spiral," Jepsen said. "You look up across baseball when you give up two-out walks they tend to score. My mindset all spring was to not walk guys, and right there you see why."
Just two pitches later, Mark Trumbo singled to center field, and on the first pitch to Wieters, a 94-mph fastball up in the zone, Wieters was able to lace a single back up the middle to give the Orioles the walk-off victory.
"It obviously isn't how we assumed Opening Day was going to go," Jepsen said, "but baseball is a grind and today was just Day 1. Losing Ervin after two innings isn't ideal, but I think our 'pen pitched great. So to lose it at the end like that after the guys in front me were pitching so well is tough."