MINNEAPOLIS — MINNEAPOLIS -- Three times yesterday, the left-hander who is probably Canada's best major league pitcher faced the slugger who is probably Canada's best hitter.
All three times, the hitter, the American League's reigning Most Valuable Player, won.
Consequently, so did the Minnesota Twins, as they rode Justin Morneau's two RBIs, including a bases-empty home run in the second inning for the game's first run, to a 7-4 victory over the Orioles in the season opener for both clubs.
It continued the dominance that Morneau has had against his fellow countryman and World Baseball Classic teammate, Erik Bedard, the Orioles' ace.
After three hits in three at-bats, Morneau is now 8-for-14 with two homers and eight RBIs against Bedard.
"There are no explanations," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Just when you start talking about it, he'll probably go 0-for-50 against him."
That's not what Bedard thinks. Not after watching Morneau get a key hit in every at-bat.
"I don't know what it is," Bedard said. "[Morneau] is just one of the hitters that you can't get out ... It doesn't matter what pitch you throw, he hits it."
Morneau's most important plate appearance came in the fifth, with the bases loaded and the game tied at 3. Before Morneau could do any damage, Bedard threw a high fastball that bounced off catcher Paul Bako's glove and skipped to the backstop.
Luis Castillo scored to give the Twins a one-run lead. Then Morneau smashed Bedard's fastball to right field to score Nick Punto and put the game out of reach.
"I think he's nasty," Morneau said. "He's got good stuff. He's an ace. He's their ace for a reason. I just go out there, don't know if it's extra focus or what. You just try not to get out because his stuff is so good you know if you're not at your best he's going to get you out. For some reason, I have a couple of home runs off him and stuff. Don't know what it is, but I'm not going to try to question it too much."
If Morneau had any problem last night it was running the bases. He twice was thrown out by Nick Markakis, once on the single to right in the fifth that he tried to turn into a double. And also in the fourth when he tried to score from second. He collided with Bako, throwing a left elbow at the catcher's head as he ran full speed into him.
"He had an entertaining night, running all over the place," Gardenhire said. "I think he probably felt like he was in a hockey game when it was all over."
Bedard also had to feel a little banged up. He was charged with six runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3 innings. He hadn't given up that many earned runs in a start since May 27 against the Los Angeles Angels.
But at least one spectator isn't worried for Bedard.
"I know Mr. Bedard is one of the best lefties in this league," Gardenhire said. "If you are getting some hits off him, you are doing pretty good."