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ALCS Notebook

Guardado survives another tense ninth inning

Posted: Tuesday October 08, 2002 8:25 PM
Updated: Wednesday October 09, 2002 2:00 AM
  Eddie Guardado Eddie Guardado struck out two of the four batters he faced. AP

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Once again the Minnesota Twins didn't feel secure until after Eddie Guardado got the elusive final out.

After watching their closer almost blow a four-run lead in the clinching win over Oakland in the division series, the Twins sweated out another tense ninth inning in the opener of the AL Championship Series Tuesday night.

"He's a good closer because he doesn't let the last game affect his next one," Minnesota catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.

Guardado relieved Joe Mays to start the ninth with 2-1 lead and walked Tim Salmon with one out.

With speedy pinch-runner Chone Figgins on first, Guardado retired cleanup hitter Garret Anderson on a fly to right field, setting up a battle with Troy Glaus.

Glaus fouled off a pair of two-strike pitches in the at-bat before Guardado froze him on a called third strike.

"The game got decided in the ninth inning on a 3-2 pitch with a 30-homer guy at the plate," Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "That's playoff baseball."

Glaus briefly questioned the call by plate umpire Ed Montague before walking off the field.

"I asked him if it was down," Glaus said. "He said 'No, it was a good pitch.' I came back and looked at it on the film, and it was a good pitch. He was right. At the time, I thought it was down a little bit, but it wasn't."

Bud's here

Twins infielder Denny Hocking doesn't have any message to send commissioner Bud Selig during the AL Championship Series.

Hocking, the team's player representative, was one of the most outspoken players during the offseason -- when Selig tried to eliminate the Twins and Montreal Expos.

"The best form of revenge is taking batting practice right now," Hocking said before Game 1 against the Anaheim Angels.

Selig showed up for Game 1 at the Metrodome and watched from a box behind home plate, away from any angry fans.

"I know I'm the lightning rod when I have to deliver unpopular messages in behalf of a lot of people," Selig said.

Hocking said the team had more important worries than Selig.

"As a team, hopefully we won't even notice because we'll be so focused on what's going on on the field," Hocking said. "As far as the fans, who knows what they're liable to do. I hope nothing idiotic. I think the fans will be caught up in the joy of being in the ALCS."

The Twins players were just happy that Selig decided to show up.

"I'm glad he came out to give us some support," Twins outfielder Torii Hunter said. "We won't fault him for all of that that happened. Bud was just doing his job."

Paying, not playing

Money won't buy a championship in baseball this year. Anaheim Angels manager Mike Scioscia believes that's a good thing.

The four teams still playing -- Anaheim, Minnesota, San Francisco and St. Louis -- weren't among the top nine in payroll as of Opening Day.

The Giants were ninth at $78.3 million; the Cardinals 12th at $74.1 million; the Angels 14th at $61.7 million, and the Twins 27th at $41.2 million.

The New York Yankees, beaten by the Angels 3-1 in the AL Division Series, were No. 1 at nearly $126 million and the defending champion Arizona Diamondbacks, swept 3-0 by St. Louis in the NL Division Series, were No. 4 at $102.8 million.

"I think it's great for baseball, but I think also it shows that if you use your resources wisely, you can build a team that can contend," Scioscia said. "We've certainly done it. The Twins have done it.

"I think the challenge is not so much keeping them together for one year or building them, it's keeping them together for a period of time so you can really reap the fruits of the team. And that's being perennial contenders."

Ortiz ready

RHP Ramon Ortiz, who will start Game 2 for the Angels against RHP Rick Reed, is coming off his second-shortest outing of the year -- a 2 2/3 inning stint against the Yankees in Game 3 of the division series.

Ortiz said that won't be a factor against the Twins on Wednesday night.

"Some time, you have a day like that," said Ortiz, who walked four to equal a season high and allowed six earned runs against the Yankees. "I don't feel bad about that game. I don't change anything."

The Angels rallied from a 6-1 deficit to beat the Yankees 9-6 and won 9-5 the next day to win the series.

Ortiz won his last six decisions to finish 15-9 despite allowing a big league-leading 40 homers during the season.

"I think Ramon will learn from the experience of his last start," manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think he was a little too pumped up. When he can get those emotions under control and execute pitches, he's one of the top pitchers in our league."

Around the bases

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura will sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game during the seventh-inning stretch in Game 2. ... After setting a postseason record by hitting .376 against the Yankees, the Angels were held to four hits in 31 at-bats for a .129 batting average. ... Corey Koskie had two hits for Minnesota -- one fewer than he had in five games of the division series against Oakland.

 
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