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Lynn's rough first too much to overcome in loss

April 2, 2018

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Lance Lynn's Twins debut got off to an inauspicious start, as he gave up five runs in the first inning, including a grand slam to Colin Moran, and Minnesota couldn't quite recover in a 5-4 loss on Monday in the Pirates' home opener at PNC Park.Lynn, who

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Lance Lynn's Twins debut got off to an inauspicious start, as he gave up five runs in the first inning, including a grand slam to Colin Moran, and Minnesota couldn't quite recover in a 5-4 loss on Monday in the Pirates' home opener at PNC Park.
Lynn, who signed a one-year deal worth $12 million with the Twins on March 12, walked the first batter he faced on five pitches -- and it only worsened from there. Two pitches later, Gregory Polanco connected on an RBI double to score Josh Harrison, which broke a string of 21 straight innings without giving up a run for Twins starters this season.

After walking Starling Marte, Lynn struck out Josh Bell and got Corey Dickerson to ground out, but walked Francisco Cervelli to load the bases for Moran. Lynn fell behind in the count, 3-0, and after coming back with two strikes, Lynn delivered a fastball to Moran, who deposited the 3-2 pitch into the right-field bleachers to give Pittsburgh a 5-0 lead.

"When you give up five runs in the first you put your team in a deep hole so I need to be better next time," said Lynn, who went four innings and tied a career high with six walks. "I just didn't make my pitches. One swing cost me four runs."
It was a continuation of Lynn's struggles against the Pirates from his time with the Cardinals, as he entered with a career 5.10 ERA against Pittsburgh in 114 2/3 innings, including a 6.86 ERA in four starts last year. He didn't get out of the first inning in his last start in Pittsburgh, surrendering eight runs on six hits and two walks while recording two outs on Sept. 23.

"It's tough when you give up five [runs] like that but he was able to bounce back to put up some zeros to give us a chance to put some runs on the board," Twins manager Paul Molitor said.

The offense took a while to get going against right-hander Jameson Taillon, who struck out nine over 5 1/3 innings. But James Dozier sparked a four-run rally in the sixth with a solo homer before Joe Mauer singled to knock Taillon from the game. Reliever Edgar Santana promptly gave up a double to Miguel Sano before a wild pitch scored the inning's second run.

Eduardo Escobar followed with an RBI double before the Pirates summoned lefty Josh Smoker, who gave up a first-pitch RBI double to Max Kepler to make it a one-run game. Byron Buxton hit a hard liner to left but Adam Frazier made a nice play to preserve Pittsburgh's lead.

The Twins threatened again in the seventh with two runners on with nobody out, but Dozier grounded out into a double play and Mauer flied out to end the inning.
"It's tough coming back on a five-run lead but I'm proud of the way guys battled," Dozier said. "That's the thing about this team. We never feel like we're out of it."
A grand impression: Moran went hitless on Opening Day and left Detroit on Sunday with only one hit in nine at-bats. He made up for it in a hurry in his first home game with the Pirates. Moran came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the first inning. With the count full, Moran launched a high fastball from Lynn into the right-field seats for his first career grand slam to give the Bucs a 5-0 lead.
"It just ran a little bit more middle than I want," Lynn said. "If I get it in there, maybe he flies out or swings through it. It was just enough back to the middle for him. My command will come once I get into the flow of things."
Buxton robbed: The Twins thought they had tied it when Buxton lined a hard liner to left with two outs in the sixth and Kepler on second, but Frazier was able to make an impressive catch to keep the Pirates' lead intact. The ball was smoked, leaving the bat at 104.9 mph with a launch angle of 17 degrees, giving it a hit percentage of 66 percent.
"We all thought it was a for-sure double," Dozier said. "He made a really good play on it. That was probably the play of the game."

The Twins walked 11 batters for the first time since Aug. 9, 2014, and for the 24th time in franchise history. The club record for walks issued is 13.
After Neverauskas walked Jason Castro to lead off the seventh, Logan Morrison entered to pinch-hit for reliever Trevor Hildenberger. Neverauskas' first pitch appeared to hit Morrison's foot, but it was initially ruled a ball. The Twins asked for a challenge, and the call was overturned and Morrison trotted to first base. He was quickly cut down at second, however, as Neverauskas induced the 5-4-3 double play.

After an off-day on Tuesday, right-hander Jake Odorizzi will make his second start with the Twins against the Pirates on Wednesday at 5:05 p.m. CT after shining in his debut against the Orioles. Odorizzi threw six scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out seven in that outing. Morrison is expected to start at first base over Mauer to give Mauer rest before Thursday's home opener in Minnesota.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.