Eduardo Escobar's first at-bat of the 2013 season was a huge one.
Escobar clobbered a Phil Coke fastball to the warning track in the ninth inning, a dramatic double that scored Jamey Carroll and Brian Dozier to deliver a 3-2 Twins' victory over Detroit.
With Minnesota trailing 2-1, Trevor Plouffe led off the ninth with a walk, and after a fly ball retired Chris Parmelee, Brian Dozier lined a single to right off the Tigers' closer. That brought up Escober, a defensive replacement who entered the game in the eighth inning.
Escobar didn't wait long; he swung at Coke's first pitch and drilled a long fly ball that landed between outfielders Austin Jackson and Andy Dirks, scoring two runs and making Kevin Correia's Twins debut -- already a relative success despite the score -- an undeniable success.
The righthander allowed only seven singles over seven innings, an encouraging sign for one of the cornerstones of the Twins' rebuilt rotation. But reigning MVP Miguel Cabrera collected two of the hits, and both scored runs -- more offense than the Twins' lineup could provide until after Correia was out of the game.
Correia, the former Pirate who signed a two-year, $10 million contract last November, struck out Cabrera on a 90-mph fastball in the first inning, but the 2012 Triple Crown winner got his revenge in both of his next two at-bats. In the third inning, and again in the fifth, former Twin Torii Hunter extended the inning with two-out singles, and both times, Cabrera followed with singles of his own to score a run.
Other than being victimized twice by Cabrera, though, Correia's first start as a Twin was encouraging. He walked only one, struck out two, and allowed no other runner but the two that scored to reach third base. Correia went seven innings and threw 97 pitches.
Didn't matter, though, with the Twins' offense dominated for a second straight game by a Tigers' starter. Like Justin Verlander in Monday's opener, righthander Anibal Sanchez threw five shutout innings, handing the Twins an early deficit. Sanchez allowed only two hits.
Minnesota's first run came in the seventh inning, when Trevor Plouffe drew a leadoff walk off reliever Darin Downs, who then got Chris Parmelee with a called third strike. Brayan Villarreal took over and struck out Brian Dozier looking on a 97-mph fastball. But pinch-hitter Wilkin Ramirez followed with a double down the right-field line, the day's only extra-base hit. That scored Plouffe and gave rookie Aaron Hicks an opportunity to tie the game. But Hicks, now 0-for-7 in his young career, swing at a high fastball to end the threat.
Paid attendance for the 3:10 start was only 22,963, easily the fewest fans ever to witness a Target Field game. The previous record was 27,526, set last Sept. 10 against Cleveland.