Minnesota Twins lose home opener against Cleveland Guardians 4-2

Two men give high fives
Edouard Julien celebrates with Byron Buxton after Julien's fifth inning home run during the Minnesota Twins game against the Cleveland Guardians in Minneapolis on Thursday, April 4, 2024.
Shannon Rathmanner for MPR News

Updated: 7:37 p.m.

Tanner Bibee and the Cleveland bullpen had 15 strikeouts to put the clamps on Minnesota's bats, Steven Kwan had three hits and the Guardians spoiled the Twins' home opener with a 4-2 victory Thursday.

Bibee (1-0) matched his career high with nine strikeouts, allowing one run over 5 1/3 innings. Four relievers followed, with Emmanuel Clase working a perfect ninth for his third save.

Carlos Correa had three hits and Edouard Julien homered for the Twins. Minnesota, which averaged more than 10 strikeouts per game to lead the majors last year, fanned the 15 times and stranded nine runners — eight in scoring position.

The eighth inning was emblematic of the Twins' struggles. With Minnesota down by two runs, Correa led off with a double. But he remained stuck at second as Scott Barlow struck out Carlos Santana, Manuel Margot and Willi Castro in order to end the threat.

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“We, obviously, didn’t get the job done when we had the opportunity,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We put ourselves in pretty good spots. Punchouts do hurt you with runners in scoring position. At least giving yourself a shot and putting it in play is probably a better scenario for us.”

Twins starter Pablo López (1-1) gave up four runs — three earned — in 5 2/3 innings.

After retiring the first nine hitters he faced, López ran into trouble in the fourth. Kwan led off with the first of three straight singles to start the inning, and Cleveland ended up scoring three runs.

“They were still staying with their approach, putting the ball in play, trying to make some things happen,” López said. “One hit after the other, they compounded.”

The Twins put runners in scoring position in three of the first four innings but came up empty each time. Julien finally broke through when he led off the fifth with an opposite-field homer, a towering fly that got up in the stiff north wind and carried into the left-field stands.

“Tanner really made a good adjustment there,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said. “Little erratic early but was able to navigate through five-plus innings, which was huge for us today. Kept us in the game the whole time, gave us a chance to win.”

Cleveland tacked on an unearned run in the sixth on Correa's two-out error.

The Twins cut it to 4-2 in the seventh on a wild pitch by Hunter Gaddis, but they left two more runners in scoring position.

a group of people drink beer
Minnesota Twins fans enjoy a beer on the Budweiser Deck at Target Field in Minneapolis on Thursday.
Shannon Rathmanner for MPR News

New food at Target Field

There’s a slew of new food and beverage offerings at Target Field this season, ranging from health-conscious smoothies featuring collagen peptides from new Minneapolis hot spot Parcelle to hearty treats like fried Oreos and boozy milkshakes.

Chef Yia Vang, owner of Union Hmong Kitchen, is adding a Bank Mi Brat to their game menu this year, offering a seared Hmong sausage on a bun, similar to a bratwurst, with pickled vegetables, garlic aioli, jalapenos and cilantro.

“The Twins are saying we want the food of our stadium to reflect our community, I think that’s incredible,” Vang said.

‘The Twins are the favorite’

Wally Langfellow, the founder of Minnesota Score Magazine and co-host of 10,000 Takes sports talk show, and Eric Nelson, the other 10,000 Takes host and Vikings reporter for CBS Sports, joined MPR News host Cathy Wurzer on March 28 ahead of the season.

The Twins are riding the shoulders of last season’s playoff success, Langfellow said.

“They won a playoff game for the first time since 2004, snapping that ridiculous 18-game postseason losing streak — by the way, the longest in any major sport in the United States of America, or in North America, if you will,” Langfellow said.

And this year, fans are hoping for another crack at it. Nelson said Minnesota is a favorite in the American League Central — with a caveat.

two adults and a child pose for a photo
Fans pose for a photo outside of Target Field prior to the Minnesota Twins home opener against the Ohio Guardians on Thursday in Minneapolis.
Shannon Rathmanner for MPR News

“It is not a powerful division. I think the best thing that Twins have going for them right now is geography. Because the other teams in the division — Kansas City … Cleveland Guardians, Detroit and the Chicago White Sox — not quality teams,” Nelson said.

“Now one of them, who knows, may make a run this year, but the Twins are the favorite. But the Twins are banged up.”

Closing pitcher Johan Duran is likely out for the next month with a strained oblique muscle, Nelson said. Also injured is left-handed pitcher Caleb Thielbar, Justin Topa and Josh Winder. Anthony DeSclafani — Jorge Polanco’s trade — is likely out for the year.

Are you having a watch party or heading to Target Field for the game? Send your photos to tell@mpr.org. Make sure to include who took the photo and where it was taken.

MPR News reporter Melissa Olson contributed to this story.