OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Oakland Athletics face a
different opponent when they make their third straight playoff
appearance in the American League Division Series as they host
the Minnesota Twins in Game One on Tuesday afternoon.
Oakland lost to the New York Yankees in five games in the
Division Series in each of the last two seasons. The Athletics
again had a chance to face the Yankees again but finished strong
to win the AL West for the second time in three seasons.
Despite first baseman Jason Giambi signing with the Yankees in
the offseason and getting off to a slow start again, the
Athletics finished 103-59 and eclipsed their win total from a
year ago. A big key was the play of shortstop Miguel Tejada, who
set career highs with a .308 batting average, 34 RBI and 134
RBI and is a leading candidate for AL Most Valuable Player.
"I think after being here a couple times, I think you are more -
I don't know what you want to call it, more professional about
it, you are not giddy about it, you know that there is work to
be done," Oakland manager Art Howe said. "You know, we have come
very close the last two years of moving on into the next series
and we have come up short, so the one thing about this year, I
think the guys realize the work is ahead of us, it's not behind
The A's are looking to win a playoff series for the first time
since defeating Boston in the 1990 AL Championship Series.
Oakland's 54-27 home record tied Minnesota and Anaheim for the
best mark in the league. The A's went 6-3 against the Twins this
season, including a 4-2 mark at home. They swept a three-game
set here from August 30-September 1, when Tejada hit a three-run
homer in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-5 victory in the
The A's also got a significant contribution from third baseman
Eric Chavez, who batted .275 with 34 homers and 109 RBI. Chavez
batted just .143 in last season's Division Series.
Tim Hudson (15-9, 2.98 ERA) is unbeaten since July 24 for
Oakland. Hudson is 8-0 with a 2.14 ERA in his last 12 starts and
was 7-4 with a 2.76 ERA at home this season.
"It's exciting," Hudson said. "Obviously, Game One of any series
is a huge game. It's a five-game series. You always want to try
to get off on the right foot, you know, by winning that first
Hudson defeated Minnesota on August 30 by allowing a pair of
runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings in a 4-2 victory. The
righthander improved to 5-0 against the Twins with a 1.76 ERA in
eight career starts.
Minnesota went from being a team mentioned for possible
contracted to a 94-67 record and an AL Central title. The Twins
are making their first postseason appearance since winning the
World Series in 1991.
The Twins have a balanced and are led by All-Star center fielder
Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones. Hunter hit 29 homers and drove
in 94 runs and Jones scored 96 runs, hit 11 leadoff homers and
had 85 RBI.
Minnesota will look to Brad Radke (9-5, 4.72) to duplicate his
effort from his last start against Oakland. Radke tossed a
six-hitter and struck out five on September 6 in a 6-0 victory
that ended the Athletics' 20-game winning streak.
"In that game, I was tough, I was pretty fired up," Radke said.
"You know, of course you want to beat the guy to stop the
streak, you know, and luckily, it came back around, you know,
for me to try and do it again. But it was a good feeling, it was
a great feeling for me and it was a great feeling for the ball
Radke, a righthander, is 6-10 lifetime with a 3.80 ERA against
the A's. He is 3-5 with a 3.76 lifetime ERA at Network
Minnesota made a surprising choice in right field with manager
Ron Gardenhire electing to start rookie Michael Cuddyer who is
hitting .433 (13-for-30) in his last 10 games.
"He is the hot hand," Gardenhire said. "He is the kind of kid
that can drive the ball, and like I said is swinging the bat
very well, and I am very confident with him."