Hudson loses despite early four-run leadPosted: Tuesday October 01, 2002 8:40 PM
Updated: Tuesday October 01, 2002 9:22 PM
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Art Howe's plan to get the Oakland Athletics past the first round of the playoffs with a seemingly unbeatable three-man rotation is in jeopardy -- already!
It seemed like a sensible approach. To advance, the Minnesota Twins would have to beat the A's three aces: Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito.
But Hudson didn't come through Tuesday in Game 1, won 7-5 by Minnesota.
A 15-game winner this year with a career-best 2.98 ERA, the right-hander fell behind in the count, turned short innings into long ones and had pitching coach Rick Peterson paying frequent visits to the mound.
But most of all, Hudson allowed the Twins to rally from a four-run deficit to win in their first postseason game in 11 years.
"I don't feel disappointed in myself," Hudson said. "I went out and battled and left when we were still ahead."
Ted Lilly took the loss in relief.
"It's tough to go in when we have the lead and then give it right up," Lilly said. "My job is to go in and keep the score right where it is. If we do that we probably win the game."
The victory will certainly give the Twins a nice confidence boost. They've been repeatedly stressing they're not just happy to be here.
Hudson was on a roll, too. He ended the regular season with an eight-game winning streak, and came into his third career playoff start having never lost to Minnesota. He was 5-0 against the Twins in eight career starts, including a 4-2 win on Aug. 30 in Oakland, the day a baseball strike was averted.
"I've battled before," he said. "For the most part today, when I needed to make good pitches I felt I made them."
The Twins are hitting about 30 points higher against right-handers -- Mulder and Zito are both lefties and either may have given the A's a better chance to win the opener.
Howe previously said he went with Hudson because the start fell on his turn. The A's couldn't line it up differently because they were chasing the New York Yankees in the last week for best record and home-field advantage.
Now that Oakland is one game down, Hudson could get another shot in Game 4 Saturday in the Metrodome.
The A's, making their third straight trip to the postseason, were eliminated in the division series the past two years by the Yankees. Oakland lost with a four-man rotation both times, so its manager decided to give this a shot.
Howe said he pulled Hudson because "he wasn't as sharp as he could be. He gave up a couple of home runs, and that's not Huddy. I wanted him to get a win."
Hudson left with one out in the sixth, walking slowly to the dugout with his head hanging low despite a standing ovation from a portion of the crowd of 34,853. He didn't even acknowledge them, scurrying out of sight.
Hudson said he "felt fine" when Howe took him out. He said his mechanics weren't a problem and that he settled down after struggling early.
"Maybe they didn't like the matchups," he said of Howe's decision.
Catcher Ramon Hernandez said he had no indication either way whether Hudson could keep going and get back to his normal self.
"The only person who knows if he's feeling good is him," Hernandez said. "I don't think you can put it on his shoulders."
Hudson allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings, with four strikeouts and two walks. He gave up two home runs.
It was Hudson's shortest outing since July 17 when he also went 5 1/3 innings.