A Day of Firsts on Opening Day at Target Field

Opening Day for the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on April 12, 2010 brought a number of “Firsts”. In fact, it almost seemed as if every other ball was placed into safe keeping during the first inning because they represented the “First” of something. Even the Boston Red Sox got into the action by requesting the ball for their first base hit.

First Home Run Ball Caught by A.J. Nitzchke of Lawton, Iowa

The first home run ball required a bit more diplomacy to retrieve from the Minnesota Twins Fan who caught it in right field with his baseball glove. The fan was 13 year old A.J. Nitzchke from Lawton, Iowa. A.J., being a smart baseball fan, decided to do some negotiating before he would hand the ball over to the Twins Organization.

What did he want in exchange? He wanted to meet his favorite Twins player, Joe Mauer and also get a game-worn jersey from him. A.J. was also promised that his name would be engraved next to Jason Kubel’s (the Twins player who hit the home run) when the ball goes on permanent display at Target Field.

Here are a few more “Firsts” from Opening Day for the Minnesota Twins:

FIRST PITCH
Carl Pavano of the Twins to Marco Scutaro of the Red Sox. Fans actually booed, thinking it should have been a strike (it was called a ball).

FIRST STRIKE
Pavano, after two consecutive balls.

FIRST HIT
Scutaro, on a 2-1 pitch, a line-drive single, slightly to the shortstop side of center field.

FIRST BASE RUNNING GAFFE
Scutaro, leaving early from first base and getting easily picked off by Pavano. That also produced our first argument — Red Sox manager Terry Francona, presumably arguing Pavano should have been called for a balk when he threw to second base.

FIRST EXTRA-BASE HIT
After Scutaro was caught stealing, Dustin Pedroia laced a double off Pavano.

FIRST WALK
Denard Span, leading off for the Twins against Jon Lester, on a 3-2 pitch.

FIRST TWINS HIT
Orlando Hudson, on a line-drive single to left in the first inning, on a 3-1 pitch.

FIRST RUN AND FIRST RBI
Span scored on a two-out, soft single to left field by Michael Cuddyer in the first inning.

FIRST STRIKEOUT
Pavano fanned David Ortiz in the second inning.

FIRST STOLEN BASE
Nick Punto, second base, after a leadoff single in the second. It also marked the first of hundreds (thousands, maybe?) of Punto head-first slides.

FIRST JOE MAUER HIT
An RBI double (first Twins Target Field double) down the left field line in the bottom of the second. It also counted as the first pick-me-up, coming after Hudson struck out with a runner on third and one out.

FIRST TARGET FIELD MAGIC
Mauer’s dribbler up the middle in the bottom of the fourth inning hit the second base bag, resulting in a high hop that Scutaro couldn’t handle and an infield RBI single with two outs in the fourth.

FIRST VIDEO REVIEW
Mike Cameron’s towering drive down the left field line in the fifth inning was ruled a foul ball but went to a review to determine whether it was a home run. After a short review, the original call stood. Cameron struck out on the next pitch.

FIRST HOME RUN
Jason Kubel, a no-doubter to right field, 391 feet, leading off the bottom of the seventh.

FIRST DOUBLE PLAY
Hudson (2B) to J.J. Hardy (SS) to Morneau (1B) off the bat of Victor Martinez in the eighth inning to snuff out a potential Boston rally.

FIRST SAVE
Jon Rauch working a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

FIRST WIN
Pavano, the Twins starter, in a 5-2 victory over the Red Sox.

(Facts Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune – April 13, 2010)

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