ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and J.J. Hardy each homered off Joe Saunders, leading the Minnesota Twins over the Los Angeles Angels 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Nick Blackburn (1-0) returned to the site of his first big league start and allowed three runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings with four walks and four strikeouts. Blackburn threw 103 pitches, 69 for strikes.
Jon Rauch made his season debut with a perfect ninth inning to earn his first AL save. The 6-foot-11 right-hander was assigned the closer's role last Friday by manager Ron Gardenhire after four-time All-Star Joe Nathan underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery in March.
Rauch had a career-high 17 saves in 2008 for Washington. But he will have a tough job to fill: Nathan averaged 41 saves over the previous six seasons and finished second in the majors last year with 47 — one fewer than the Angels' Brian Fuentes.
Saunders (0-1) gave up five runs and nine hits over five innings and struck out four. The left-hander, who went 7-0 in his final eight regular-season starts last year, surrendered three or more homers in a game for the sixth time in his career.
Mauer, who hit a career-high 26 home runs last season en route to his third AL batting title, cleared the center field fence on a 1-1 pitch after Denard Span drew a leadoff walk and was erased on an attempted sacrifice by Orlando Hudson. The Twins then loaded the bases and Delmon Young made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Morneau led off the third with a towering drive to right field to make it 4-0. The Angels got on the board in the bottom half with Torii Hunter's RBI single, but Hardy — obtained from Milwaukee for outfielder Carlos Gomez in November — got that run back in the fourth with a drive into the newly installed magnolia trees behind the center field fence.
Hunter hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to bring the Angels to 5-3 and added a double that chased Blackburn. The former Twins outfielder was 3 for 4 after coming in 8 for 44 lifetime against Minnesota.
The crowd of 45,000 set a Guinness Book record for "the largest gathering of people wearing fleece blankets of one color in one place.
The red "blankies" were inscribed with Hideki Matsui's name and uniform No. 55. A Guinness World Records adjudicator was on hand to officially certify the new record, which shattered the previous mark of 17,758 fans that was just set on March 5 by the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers.
NOTES: A moment of silence was observed in memory of Bob Clear, the Angels' bullpen coach during their 1979, 1982 and 1986 AL West championship seasons, who died Tuesday at age 82. ... Gardenhire left the ballpark before the game ended because of flulike symptons, and was replaced by third base coach Scott Ullger. ... Mauer and Morneau homered in the same game six times last season — all in May — and the Twins were 4-2 on those occasions. ... Mauer was hitless in his first eight career at-bats against Saunders before the home run. ... Bert Blyleven, in his 15th season as a TV analyst for the Twins, turned 59 years old Tuesday. He is one of three pitchers in history to win a big league game before his 20th birthday and after his 40th birthday, along with Mike Morgan and Herb Pennock. Anaheim was the site of Blyleven's only no-hitter, a 6-0 victory over the Angels in 1977 while pitching for the Texas Rangers. ... Hunter is one of four players who spent at least 10 seasons with the Twins and then went straight to the Angels. The others were Bert Blyleven (trade) Rod Carew (trade) and Gary Gaetti (free agency).