Donaldson homers, Twins beat Cardinals in home opener

MINNEAPOLIS — Josh Donaldson homered and drove in two runs in his Target Field debut with Minnesota, Jorge Polanco hit a two-run shot and the Twins beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-3 in their home opener on Tuesday night.

Homer Bailey (1-0) pitched five innings in his first start for the Twins, allowing a two-run homer to Tyler O’Neill in the fifth. Bailey had a 6-0 lead before that thanks in part to Donaldson, the heralded addition to an already potent lineup who signed a four-year, $92 million contract during the winter.

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“It’s going to be challenging for pitchers to come in here. They’re going to have to really be on top of their game to be able to last and to go deep in the game and to have success against us,” said Donaldson, who has two of Minnesota’s nine homers over four games.

Cardinals starter Carlos Martínez (0-1) was pulled after 3 2/3 innings, when the homer by Donaldson ended his night. Polanco’s drive capped a five-run second for the Twins, with Max Kepler delivering an RBI single and Donaldson contributing a sacrifice fly.

The stumble by Martínez was ill-timed, considering the Cardinals placed Miles Mikolas on the injured list before the game with a tendon injury in his forearm that needs surgery and will knock him out of the rotation for the entire season.

“I’m not concerned about Carlos. He didn’t get away with some mistakes, and they made him pay,” said manager Mike Shildt.

Tommy Edman took Trevor May deep in the eighth for the Cardinals, despite 2017 Gold Glove winner Byron Buxton’s well-timed jump from the back of the warning track in center field. The ball simply bounced off the bottom of his mitt and onto the grass berm beyond the wall, prompting an incredulous expression from Buxton as he dropped to his knees in disgust over missing the catch.

“He catches that the majority of the time, so a lucky bounce there, for sure,” Edman said.

Sergio Romo pitched a hitless ninth for a stress-free save, preserving a third victory in four games for the defending AL Central champion Twins. Closer Taylor Rogers has yet to pitch, but manager Rocco Baldelli said his absence was merely circumstantial.

QUIET START

The Twins began their 60th season in Minnesota in most unusual fashion, under the thumb of the virus that forced Major League Baseball to play a 60-game season without fans.

Recorded crowd noise served as part of the soundtrack, and the club’s in-game presentation crew still marked the home team’s home runs with the celebratory siren that popped up last year while the “Bomba Squad” powered its way to a record 307 homers.

The subdued venue was never quieter than at 8:46 p.m. for the pause to honor George Floyd, the handcuffed Black man who died when a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly eight minutes at an intersection 4 miles southeast of the ballpark. The Twins have hung a Black Lives Matter banner and another one reading “Justice for George Floyd” among the ads on the right field wall.

“Everyone felt something in that moment,” said Baldelli, who was among the Twins who knelt during the national anthem. He added: “It definitely draws your attention to something other than baseball for a minute, and it was the right time to do so, in my opinion.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: DH Matt Carpenter, who fouled a pitch off his left knee Sunday, was back in the lineup. He went 2 for 4. … RHP Giovanny Gallegos (undisclosed illness) was added to the active roster and got two outs in sixth.

Twins: Buxton made his season debut, two weeks after spraining his left foot during an intrasquad scrimmage. Baldelli said the team will carefully watch the oft-injured Buxton, whose 2019 season ended early because of a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon will take the mound Wednesday night in place of Mikolas. Ponce de Leon has a 3.29 ERA over 82 career innings, including 12 starts.

Twins: LHP Rich Hill makes his first start with the team in the finale of the two-game series. Hill, who used the pandemic pause to recover from offseason elbow surgery, had his turn pushed back three days for extra rest. The 40-year-old spent the last four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers.