Twins unravel in shaky second inningPosted: Wednesday October 09, 2002 11:50 PM
Updated: Thursday October 10, 2002 12:49 AM
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A shaky second inning by Minnesota's defense and another subpar postseason performance from Rick Reed helped put the Twins in a big hole against the Anaheim Angels.
The biggest gaffe was a botched two-out rundown that gave Anaheim two of its four runs in that inning and enough of a cushion to hold on for a 6-3 victory in Game 2 that tied the ALCS at a game apiece.
"We feel like we do have a chip on our shoulder on defense," first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. "If we're not perfect, we don't feel like we did our jobs."
A favorite mantra of manager Ron Gardenhire -- and his predecessor, Tom Kelly -- is this: "If we pitch and catch the ball, we'll be OK."
The Twins didn't do that in the second, and Reed quickly fell behind 4-0.
Minnesota, which committed a major league-low 74 errors this year, has Gold Glove winners at first base and center field and well above-average fielders at third base, shortstop, second base and left field.
Yet for the second time this postseason, the Twins broke down on defense.
Wednesday's fielding woes weren't nearly as bad as the first two innings of their Game 1 division series win over Oakland in which they made three errors, let an infield popup drop between four people and allowed four unearned runs.
But Reed could've escaped with far less damage with a little more help from his fielders.
"We haven't really given him much defense," Mientkiewicz said. "We're going to live and die with him. He's not going to get rattled by what he would call one or two bad outings. We fully take the blame by the way he's been pitching. It's not his fault."
Brad Fullmer got a double on a liner that rookie right fielder Michael Cuddyer fielded on one hop but threw well wide of second -- missing a chance to get Fullmer.
Scott Spiezio hit a bloop double that bounced in front of a late-breaking Cuddyer, scoring Troy Glaus for a 2-0 lead and putting runners at second and third.
Bengie Molina flied out to shallow right, and Fullmer was tagged out after Adam Kennedy hit a chopper back to the mound.
But then came the big blunder.
Reed had Kennedy picked off first after he fell down a few feet from the bag. Kennedy ran toward second with Mientkiewicz in pursuit, but the first baseman threw home to prevent Spiezio from scoring before the third out.
Spiezio's leg hit catcher A.J. Pierzynski's forearm, and he couldn't close his glove to catch the ball as Spiezio crossed the plate safely.
"I gave him a little bit of the plate and tried to come back and get him," Pierzynski said. "He hit me in a perfect spot. It was a clean play.
"It's my fault."
That's not the way Mientkiewicz saw it.
"I don't want anyone blaming A.J.," Mientkiewicz said. "I could've made a better throw."
Spiezio didn't know if he would have been safe had Pierzynski hung on.
"It was a bang-bang play," he said. "It was that close."
The Angels are an aggressive team on the basepaths, so the Twins weren't surprised by the play. They just wish they would've finished it.
"It was unfortunate," Mientkiewicz said. "I don't think we totally (messed up) that play. A.J. catches that ball, he leaves it in the ump's hands."
Kennedy advanced to third on Pierzynski's error and scored on a single by David Eckstein to make it 4-0.
"That's what makes playoff teams successful -- taking advantage of other teams' mistakes," Kennedy said.
Reed thought he made some pretty good pitches, particularly to Spiezio.
"That's just been my luck lately," the pitcher said.
The error wound up being costly, too, because Minnesota finally broke through against Angels starter Ramon Ortiz with a three-run sixth to cut Anaheim's lead in half.
The Twins, who put six runners on in the first five innings without reaching second base, couldn't get any closer against the Anaheim bullpen.
Reed, the only Twins starter with postseason experience before this year, gave up eight hits and six runs -- four earned -- in 5 1/3 innings. In Game 3 of the division series, a 6-3 loss to the A's, Reed gave up four solo homers in five innings.
Reed retired 10 of 11 batters after Eckstein's RBI single in the second, but Glaus tripled and Fullmer homered to make it 6-0.