Don’t hand the Twins the AL Central title just yet. The kinks made themselves visible Friday on Opening Day for the Twins.

The Twins ace, the man who is supposed to be the rock in the Twins rotation, got mauled in the first inning for four runs. Carl Pavano only lasted four innings and ended up allowing eight runs, seven of which were earned. But the beatdown didn’t end there.

The Twins basically got out-hit, out-pitched, out-everythinged.

Minnesota batters mustered up just eight hits and three runs to the Jays hitters who pounded the Twins meek pitching staff for 12 hits and 13 runs.

Blue Jays pitcher Rickey Romano silenced Twins bats, ending his first night of the year in impressive fashion, boasting an ERA of just 1.42 and fanning seven Twins batters.

Speaking of Twins batters, Justin Morneau made his return to the lineup and his performance was merely worthy of a footnote on the highlight reels. Morneau was silent in his first game back since sustaining a concussion in Toronto nearly nine months ago, going 0-for-4 on the night.

“Spring training was about how I felt. Hopefully we’re past that and now it just matters if we win or lose,” Morneau said.

But the bats weren’t the only thing to fault in the loss, the pitching of the Twins really let the club down. After Pavano went just four innings, the Twins cycled through a pitcher an inning, with inning-long appearances by Jeff Manship, Glenn Perkins, Kevin Slowey and Dusty Hughes respectively.

The best nights of relief were had by Perkins and Slowey, two guys who have starting pitching potential. Both didn’t allow a run and allowed only one hit each. That about summed up the bright spots of the Twins’ Opening Day bout.

The home runs were very present, just on the wrong side of the ball for Twins fans. The Jays cranked four homers Friday. It was the J.P. Arencibia show with the Jays’ young budding superstar going 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBI.

Those are stats the Twins wish they could have come close to matching.

“We didn’t follow the plan very well pitching,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “They swing the bats and, if you keep throwing the ball out over the plate, they’re going to kill you. We didn’t do a very good job of that tonight. We didn’t play good defense. It was just a bad night all the way around.”

Tsuyoshi Nishioka was less than stellar in his season debut for the Twins, going just 1-for-4 and even committing an error. The bright side on him, though, is that he does look comfortable in his new environment with the Twins and should settle into the lineup nicely.

The first loss can be attributed to jitters, but the Twins honestly looked no different than where they left off last year in New York. They were sloppy, didn’t seem in sync and the pitching was putrid. The go-to ace man failed miserably and the bats that were supposed to be powerful this year were whimsical. 

The fear that Morneau won’t be himself were confirmed. It is very evident that he will have to shake off a considerable amount of rust before he is the Home Run Derby champion he was prior to the concussion.

The pitching staff may need some more time to stabilize, but that’s not new news. The fear is that the Twins will get off to a slow start and will be forced to make a trade to acquire pitching, and this means dealing Liriano.

That’s a worst-case scenario for the Twins, but the first game out of the gates didn’t do much to calm those fears.

It’s safe to say the Twins’ first few games will be chaotic.

Then again, the Twins have never been fast starters. If there is one thing they are known for it’s late season surges where the written off Twins powerhouse the the front of the Central and steal away the title from a White Sox or Tigers team that has been there the whole second half.

So perhaps all the first day jitters and panic attacks are for naught.

However, the fact the Twins gave up 13 runs and the White Sox scored 15 isn’t comforting. Then again, the fact the Sox did give up 10 to the Indians is.

But if there is another thing the Twins are known for, it’s raising the blood pressure of their fans.

So Twins fans, bust out the blood pressure machines, it’s going to be a long 161-game haul ahead.

Next Three Up

Saturday: at Toronto (Liriano vs. Drabek)

Sunday: at Toronto (Blackburn vs. Cecil)

Monday: at New York Yankees (Baker vs. Nova)

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