MINNEAPOLIS – C.J. Wilson won his awaited Angels debut with seven smooth innings, giving Los Angeles all the boost it needed to beat the Twins 5-1 on Monday and spoil Minnesota's home opener.
Wilson (1-0) allowed three hits while striking out five, giving up only one fly ball, a home run by Josh Willingham. Wilson, who struck out Joe Mauer twice, had a 2-0 lead before he even touched the mound, after Torii Hunter's single and Bobby Abreu's double drove in first-inning runs against Nick Blackburn.
Albert Pujols didn't get a ball out of the infield in four at-bats, but he reached on a fielder's choice, hustled from first to third on a single to center and scored the Angels' first run. Pujols is 3 for 14 through four games, with one run batted in.
Blackburn (0-1) was charged with five runs over six innings, but he recorded 15 straight outs in one stretch and surrendered just five hits, a decent first start after two straight rough seasons.
The fact that Wilson, who went 31-15 with a 3.14 ERA over the last two years, was slated as their fourth starter provided more proof of how stacked the Angels are this season. Wilson's decision to leave Texas and sign for five years and more than $77 million was barely noticed because Pujols joined on the same day.
But Hunter kidded before the game that he could've built an entire clubhouse "with a fireplace" with all the bats he's seen Wilson break. On a sunny but windy and chilly afternoon — the first-pitch temperature was 45 degrees — Wilson looked as comfortable as if he were in his Southern California home.
He walked four, but control has never been his strong suit. His 93 walks led the AL two years ago. Jamey Carroll drew a two-out walk in the third and Mauer followed with a sharp single, but Justin Morneau ended the inning with a weak tap back to the mound. Carroll followed a fifth-inning walk with a double-play grounder.
While the Angels went all in for a World Series, the Twins are trying to restore pride, health and competitiveness after last year's 99-loss debacle. Their season-starting sweep in Baltimore didn't help. The Twins were one of five teams around the majors who were winless the first weekend, and they're still looking for a lead, let alone a victory. No-hit through seven innings against the Orioles on Sunday, they've now scored just six runs in four games and been outscored 20-6.
Blackburn, who had offseason surgery to realign a nerve in his forearm, hasn't won since last July 8. His demise was leadoff walks in the first and seventh innings. Chris Iannetta's two-run double broke the game open and finished Blackburn's afternoon. Erick Aybar stretched the lead to 5-1 with a deftly executed squeeze bunt after Jared Burton relieved.
Notes: Peter Bourjos played CF for the Angels instead of Vernon Wells, who went 2 for 13 over the first three games coming off a career-worst .218 batting average last year. Manager Mike Scioscia said he's already concerned about Wells pressing too hard to improve upon his frustrating 2011 season. Wells entered the game late and struck out. ... Hunter and RH LaTroy Hawkins threw ceremonial first pitches, a rarity for visiting players. They joined several of their former teammates from the 2002 Twins to mark the 10-year anniversary of the team's division title after the franchise was nearly eliminated that offseason. "All those guys on the team were like family," Hunter said. ... Twins GM Terry Ryan said the Twins will wait to reset their rotation until after Thursday, when RH Jason Marquis starts for Triple-A Rochester. Marquis missed two weeks of spring training to be with his seriously injured daughter. RH Scott Baker is seeking a second opinion on his strained elbow, and RH Liam Hendriks was discharged from a Baltimore hospital Monday after missing his start Sunday because of food poisoning. ... Mauer, who is 1 for 14 this season, played 1B and was charged with an error for bobbling a grounder in the sixth. ... After the off day Tuesday, Angels All-Star Jered Weaver, who struck out 10 over eight scoreless innings to win their opener, will take the mound Wednesday against the Twins' Carl Pavano (0-1).