The two newest Minnesota Twins make the biggest impact Sunday in their team’s 3-1 win over the Texas Rangers.
Center fielder Alex Presley and catcher Josmil Pinto both made their Twins debuts — and for Pinto, his major league debut — on Sunday, and they combined for five hits and a pair of RBI in Minnesota’s victory.
It was Pinto, the 24-year-old from Venezuela, who opened the scoring for the Twins. With Minnesota trailing 1-0 in the fifth inning, Pinto jumped on a 3-2 curveball from Rangers starter Travis Blackley and doubled to left field. Pinto’s first big league hit scored Clete Thomas and tied the game at one.
“I’m obviously very happy to be able to help my team win,” Pinto said through translator and Twins first baseman Chris Colabello. “I just tried to go out there and do what I’ve been doing all year. Thank God it worked out.”
Prior to Pinto’s first career hit, Presley had already recorded his first hit as a Twin when he led the game off with a single to left. Presley’s solid Twins debut continued in the fifth inning when the 28-year-old outfielder — batting leadoff Sunday — blooped a single to left field to score shortstop Doug Bernier and give Minnesota a 3-1 cushion. Presley had four RBI with Pittsburgh in 29 games this year, but his first RBI Sunday as a Twin was a big one.
Presley was acquired Saturday from the Pirates (along with a player to be named later) in exchange for first baseman Justin Morneau. He had played in 204 major league games prior to Sunday, but this was his first in a uniform other than Pittsburgh’s.
Talk about a good first impression with his new club.
“A lot of these guys I’ve never played with, and some haven’t seen me play,” Presley said. “You always want to come in and prove to the guys in the clubhouse and get their respect on the field, and that’s what I tried to do.”
In the eighth inning, Presley picked up his third hit of the day when he led off the eighth with a single to left. He later came around to score from second base on Josh Willingham’s infield single to second base. As Presley crossed the plate, it gave the Twins a 4-1 lead.
Pinto tallied his second big league hit with a one-out single to right field in the ninth inning. The Twins catcher went the opposite way on an 0-2 fastball from Texas reliever Robbie Ross, advancing Clete Thomas to second base. On top of his two hits, Pinto was behind the plate for the entire game, catching starter Kevin Correia as he allowed just one run in seven innings.
“We saw in spring training, he handled everybody,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Pinto’s ability to call a game. “It’s fun. Your first major league ball game, it doesn’t get any better than that. These are fun days.”
Prior to his call-up, Pinto played in just 19 games at Triple-A Rochester, where he batted .314 with six RBI and a home run. He spent much of the season with Double-A New Britain, hitting .308 with 68 RBI and 14 home runs in 107 games.
Sunday, Pinto finally got his first taste of the big leagues and made the most of it.
“To be in the lineup, I was so excited to be able to send a picture back to my family and all my friends in Venezuela,” Pinto said. “I walked out here and saw everything out here and I was obviously very excited, but I just tried to remind myself that it’s the same game I played down there.”
FOX Sports North’s Jamie Hersch contributed to this report.