BALTIMORE — Logan Morrison won’t ever forget his first Opening Day. Then again, he remembers his 2016 opener, for an entirely different reason.
Morrison’s first opener as a big leaguer came in 2011 as a Marlins rookie, and it was an emotional occasion, coming just three months after his father passed away. “It was at the old SunLife Stadium. There was a flyover, all that stuff, and then I hit a homer,” Morrison said. “It was a cool day.”
Things didn’t go quite as well two years ago, his first season as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. Morrison took an 0-for-4 in his first game against Toronto, and then 0-for-2 the next day. Four more at-bats in the series, four more outs. Next game, he hit into a double play in his first at-bat in Camden Yards, then took a third strike before finally breaking up his 0-for-12 with a single. But three weeks into the season, Morrison was 2-for-41, not the first impression he hoped to make on his new team.
“I didn’t get a hit for a month, it felt like,” Morrison said. Does the pressure grow with each 0-fer? “No doubt that happens. I’ve been through it long enough now where I don’t worry to much about it. But it definitely helps your confidence to get a hit right away.”
Last season, he singled in a run in his first at-bat, then homered in his second, the first of 38 he would hit. Today, he opens his first season with the Twins, batting fifth for a team that’s hoping to get off to a good start itself. The Twins broke an eight-game Opening Day losing streak last April, but are 0-3 when opening their season in Baltimore.
Paul Molitor, who went hitless on Opening Day only four times in 18 openers, said he empathizes with players’ desires to erase that big .000 on the scoreboard right away. The scoreboard and the numbers, you can’t really avoid what they’re telling you as far as how your season has begun, and whether it’s your first hit or your first homer or something, it’s good to get those columns moving in the right direction,” the Twins manager said. “Realistically, the pressure can build a little bit game-to-game, especially with the off days and thinking about things.”
In case you were wondering: Joe Mauer, who today will play in his Twins-record 14th season opener (breaking the record he shared with Harmon Killebrew), is 13-for-47 (.277) on Opening Day, though 12 of the hits are singles. Miguel Sano is 1-for-7, but the hit was a blast off Danny Duffy last April. Eddie Rosario is 2-for-7, with a hit in both of his openers. Byron Buxton is 0-for-8, Eduardo Escobar is 2-for-7 (though 2-for-4 in his only start), Jason Castro is 3-for-20, and Max Kepler is 1-for-4.
And Brian Dozier, who will be at the plate for the first pitch of the Twins’ 2018 season? He’s 2-for-19 (.105) in openers.
The sun is out in Baltimore, where the temperature is in the low 60s, far better weather than the Twins’ last opener here, when they were rained out after playing just a couple of innings in 2016. Jake Odorizzi will make his debut for the Twins, once the pomp and pageantry concludes. Jim Souhan and I are here at Camden Yards for the Star Tribune.
Here are the lineups for Game 1: