Mauer, Cuddyer homer in Twins' win
Minnesota caps exhibition season with victory vs. St. Louis
TWINS 8, CARDINALS 3
at Target Field
Saturday, April 3
Cardinals at the plate: Jason LaRue tallied a couple of base hits in his return from a bone bruise on his left hand, and he drove in St. Louis' first run. Albert Pujols hit three balls very hard, with a double, a hard line drive to left field and a ball that Delmon Young caught just in front of the wall in left. David Freese cranked a solo homer in the seventh.Twins at the plate: Minnesota jumped on starter Jaime Garcia quickly, plating three runs in the first two innings. Joe Mauer crushed a solo homer to straightaway center in the first, and three straight singles and an error led to two runs in the second. Michael Cuddyer added a solo homer for insurance in the sixth. Cardinals on the mound: Garcia was a little bit better than his line suggested, as he struck out four with no walks and got a slew of ground balls. But he also was touched for a pair of home runs, and allowed four runs on eight hits through 5 1/3 innings. Mitchell Boggs allowed a hit in two-thirds of an inning, and Blake Hawksworth surrendered a run in one inning as he returned from a groin injury. Twins on the mound: Starter Kevin Slowey was sharp and efficient. Slowey needed a mere 81 pitches (60 strikes) to get through 6 2/3 innings. He allowed two runs on six hits, struck out three and walked one. Matt Guerrier allowed a hit in a shutout eighth. New closer Jon Rauch allowed one run on a walk and a hit in the ninth. Worth noting: Felipe Lopez turned an impressive unassisted double play in the seventh inning when he made a diving stop of Brian Dinkelman's low line drive, then scrambled along the dirt to tag the third-base bag and double off Alexi Casilla. Up next: The Cardinals have a short flight to the east after the game, heading to Cincinnati for the lidlifter at Great American Ball Park. An opener in Cincinnati is one of the game's great traditions, and the Cardinals will send Chris Carpenter to the mound for his fifth career Opening Day start on Monday. The Reds counter with Aaron Harang in a game that starts at 12:10 p.m. CT.
The Twins, meanwhile, fly west for four games in Anaheim to open the season. It's the only season-opening series between 2009 division champions. Scott Baker makes his first Opening Day start on Monday, facing Jered Weaver, as the Twins officially debut their new double-play combination of J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson. First pitch is set for 9:05 p.m.
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.