After last year's dismal 103-loss season, the Twins started 2017 on a high note, beating the Kansas City Royals 7-1 at Target Field Monday for the team's first opening day victory in nearly a decade.
The Twins finished the 2016 season 59 and 103 — the worst in Major League Baseball, and this year they added only five new players to the roster.
• Shrimp boil and a triple sausage bloody mary: Here's the new food lineup at Target Field
Fans Katie Thomas and her brother Jason Zeches said they're not expecting a major turnaround, just incremental improvement.
"I'm always optimistic," Thomas said. "I'm a fan, I always have been. I always will be. Let's just try not to break 100. How about that?"
Even as game attendance has steadily dwindled in recent years, the Twins can always count on Thomas and Zeches to show up for the home opener. Their tradition has often included watching the Twins lose, but Monday was different.
Twins starting pitcher Ervin Santana struck out three batters over seven innings, and gave up only two hits — including a home run — and two walks.
Things fell apart for Kansas City reliever Matt Strahm, who unintentionally walked three more batters, forcing in runs. Before the inning was over, Jason Castro would smack a two-run single and Polanco hit another single.
Manager Paul Molitor said it's the kind of effort he hopes to see over the next 161 games.
"It was one game, but it couldn't have been drawn out much better," Molitor said. "Ervin's start, and some timely hitting and good at-bats and good defense. I think the message today was that we worked hard, let's go out and let it fly. Let our talent flourish a little bit, and we saw some of those things today."