MINNEAPOLIS -- After losing eight straight Opening Days, and starting last year with an 0-9 record that essentially sunk their season, it's clear how much the Twins wanted to open with a victory against the Royals on Monday.Shortly before first pitch, the Twins held a players-only meeting in the clubhouse
MINNEAPOLIS -- After losing eight straight Opening Days, and starting last year with an 0-9 record that essentially sunk their season, it's clear how much the Twins wanted to open with a victory against the Royals on Monday.
Shortly before first pitch, the Twins held a players-only meeting in the clubhouse at Target Field, with veterans such as James Dozier, Joe Mauer, Chris Gimenez and Matt Belisle speaking up about ignoring outside expectations and believing in each other despite last year's 103-loss season.
"They just said to have fun and go out there and compete," Minnesota center fielder Byron Buxton said. "We went out there and did exactly that. We had fun and swung the bats a little bit."
As Buxton noted, whatever was said certainly seemed to work in the first game, as just about everything went right for the Twins in a 7-1 win over the Royals that brought peace of mind to the clubhouse, knowing there won't be another start like last year.
"We've been on a mission since Spring Training to come out and play a little better to start the season," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "It's one game, but it couldn't have been drawn up much better."
Much of what needs to happen for the Twins to have a successful season was on display in the win, as they excelled in the little things they struggled so much with last year.
Minnesota's defense was crisp behind Ervin Santana, especially with Buxton making two diving catches, including Statcast™'s first five-star play of the year, while they also executed two crucial bunts as part of a six-run seventh inning.
The Twins also showed patience with three bases-loaded walks, and nearly everyone in the lineup contributed, with all but Buxton reaching base safely.
"We didn't want to go 0-1 like last year," Mauer said. "It was a good win and we did a lot of little things to contribute to that. It's a good sign."
Other good signs included new addition Jason Castro going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk -- all against lefties -- and Miguel Sano shaking off his up-and-down spring with a solo shot that had an exit velocity of 113.8 mph, which was the second-hardest hit homer of his career. Minnesota's bullpen also threw two scoreless innings, outshining Kansas City's 'pen, which allowed six runs.
Of course, it's just one game and not necessarily indicative of what's to come, but it's clear the Twins are ready to put 2016 behind them and have confidence despite the outside expectations.
"This is a new year," Sano said. "This is a new team. Everybody is positive here and wants to play the game and win every day."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](https://twitter.com/RhettBollinger)** and listen to his podcast.