ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Hideki Matsui drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth and added an eighth-inning homer in his dynamic Angels debut, and Jered Weaver pitched six strong innings for Los Angeles in a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.
Jeff Mathis and Kendry Morales also homered as the Angels opened their 50th season and their run at a fourth straight AL West title with their sixth victory in the last seven openers.
After an 0-for-2 start, Matsui quickly showed why the Angels chose last season's World Series MVP over slugger Vladimir Guerrero in free agency.
The Japanese star's two-out single to right scored Erick Aybar in the fifth, and the Angels' new cleanup hitter connected for a long shot to center off Jose Mijares in the eighth.
Delmon Young hit a two-run homer as the Twins opened chase of their sixth division title in nine seasons with an unimpressive effort from Scott Baker (0-1). The right-hander gave up five hits, four runs and three walks while failing to get out of the fifth, allowing Matsui's RBI single on his final pitch.
The Angels signed Matsui to a one-year contract last December following his stellar postseason performance with the New York Yankees. Los Angeles' new cleanup hitter showed why he could quickly become an Angel Stadium favorite in place of Guerrero, the former MVP allowed to leave for Texas.
From his first plate appearance, a row of fans in the right-field bleachers held up 10 signs together reading "Matsuiland," an echo of the Dodgers' "Mannywood" sign in the left-field corner at Dodger Stadium.
Matsui became the first player to homer in his Angels debut since Morales did it in May 2006 — and Morales, who drove in two runs, then followed Matsui's drive with a homer to left.
Weaver (1-0) stepped in nicely for former ace John Lackey, who signed a big-money free-agent deal with Boston in the offseason. In his second opening day assignment for the Angels, Weaver yielded five hits and three runs, striking out six and largely staying out of trouble until escaping a bases-loaded jam in the sixth.
Not everything worked out for the Angels: Bobby Abreu was hitless on opening day for the first time in his career, going 0 for 4. Abreu had a hit in 13 straight openers, the longest active streak in the majors and the third-longest in baseball history behind Frank Thomas and Will Clark, who each hit in 14 straight.
Los Angeles' bullpen got into and out of trouble after Weaver left, although Brian Fuentes pitched a quiet ninth for his first save.
Kevin Jepsen escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh on Justin Morneau's liner to first base to end a 29-pitch inning. Fernando Rodney, the former Tigers closer who joined Los Angeles in the offseason, then threw six straight balls to open the eighth before getting a popup and a double-play grounder from Young.
NOTES: Angels LHP Scott Kazmir will start at Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday before rejoining the big league club. Kazmir, who began the season on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, will pitch for the Angels against the Yankees next week, manager Mike Scioscia said. ... Jim Thome made his Minnesota debut as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, grounding out in front of the plate but advancing J.J. Hardy to second. ... LHP Francisco Liriano will join the Twins in Chicago for his start Friday against the White Sox. Manager Ron Gardenhire decided the Twins' No. 5 starter should stay in Florida during the club's trip to Anaheim to rest up for his season debut. ... Wayne Gretzky attended the game.