OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- With a visit to the unfriendly
Metrodome on the horizon, the Oakland Athletics try to avoid
falling into a big hole when they host the Minnesota Twins in
Game Two of the American League Division Series on Wednesday.
The Athletics squandered a four-run lead in Game One on Tuesday
and are trying to earn a split of the first two games at Network
Associates Coliseum. Games Three and Four will be played at the
Metrodome, where the Twins were 54-27 during the regular
"In a short five-game series, every game is pretty big," Oakland
third baseman Eric Chavez said. "You definitely don't want to
fall down 0-2 going into Minnesota. But we have two good
pitchers going in the next two days, so we will be fine."
"We'd be happy with a split," Twins first baseman Doug
Mientkiewicz said. "Our guys got their feet wet (Tuesday) and
that was good. (Wednesday) anything is possible. It's a day game
in Oakland. We just have to capitalize."
The Metrodome is notorious for being the loudest park in
baseball and is a tough place to play due to its fast turf and a
roof that makes fly balls hard to locate.
"I wish we could pack the dome up and take it with us wherever
we go," Minnesota's Game Two starter Joe Mays said. "We played
there all season, we could see the balls in the roof, we know
how fast the ball moves on the turf. When we are in the dome
it's always 70 degrees so we know it's perfect."
The Twins rallied for a 7-5 victory in Game One against starter
Tim Hudson. After making three errors in the first two innings
to fall behind 5-1, Minnesota scored twice in the third and
three times in the sixth. Corey Koskie and Mientkiewicz homered
for the Twins.
"We have won a baseball game, we have got another one to play
and it's just as important as this one," Minnesota manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "(Oakland) is a great baseball team, they don't
win 100-plus games for not being a great baseball team. We got
some stuff out of our system, but we have to win another
"Last year we won the first game and ended up losing and the
year before we won the first game and ended up losing," Oakland
manager Art Howe said. "So hopefully we can bounce back together
and get (Game Two)."
Johan Santana, J.C. Romero and Eddie Guardado combined to allow
four hits in four scoreless innings after Minnesota starter Brad
Radke was hurt by his team's defense and gave up eight hits in
five innings. Guardado, who led the AL with 45 saves in his
first year as a full-time closer, turns 32 Wednesday.
The A's also lost more than the game Tuesday when designated
hitter Olmedo Saenz suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon running
out a ground ball in the eighth inning. He will be lost for the
Oakland has lost five straight ALDS games at Network Associates
Coliseum and nine of 11 postseason home games dating to Game
Three of the 1990 World Series.
Hudson had never lost to the Twins, who were able to defeat the
only righthanded starter the A's will use in the series.
Minnesota has had considerable less success against lefthanders
and will be facing a pair of them, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito in
Games Two and Three, respectively.
The Twins were just 22-29 when facing a lefthanded starter this
season and have hit 30 points lower against southpaws. Jacque
Jones, Cristian Guzman, Koskie and David Ortiz - Minnesota's top
four hitters in Game One - hit just .235 (154-for-654) combined
against lefthanders this season.
"This is the playoffs, you can take the record against lefties
and throw it out," Mulder said. "Everybody steps it up a little
bit in the playoffs and we have to do the same thing as
pitchers. They are some good hitters and they are going to be
Mulder (19-7, 3.47 ERA) fell just shy of his second consecutive
20-win season and was overshadowed by Zito's dominance
throughout the season. He nearly matched his 2001 ERA despite
suffering a forearm injury early in the season.
Mulder is 4-2 in with a 2.16 ERA in eight career starts against
Minnesota. He went 1-1 in three starts against the Twins this
season, allowing six runs and 18 hits in 25 innings.
"I have generally pitched well against these guys," he said.
"There are days when you don't have your good stuff, but I think
most of my starts I have had that."
"They have got Mulder going on the mound and he's as tough as
anybody in the league," Gardenhire said. "We have got our work
cut out for us, but we know we can play."
The 25-year-old lefthander pitched Games One and Five against
the New York Yankees in the 2001 ALDS. He gave up one run in 6
2/3 innings en route to a victory in Game One but lost the
decisive fifth game after surrendering four runs - two earned -
in 4 1/3 innings.
Mulder was 7-3 with a 3.27 ERA in 13 starts at Network
Associates Coliseum this season. He is 24-8 with a 3.23 ERA in
41 career regular season starts here.
The Twins hand the ball to Mays (4-8, 5.38), who makes his first
career postseason appearance. He made just 17 starts during the
regular season as he missed more than three months with an
"Since I came back, (I've been) preparing myself for the
postseason, just trying to work on some things," he said.
"Trying to get my confidence back, relying on the fastball a
little bit more. That's all it's been this second half is
getting prepared for the postseason."
Mays made consecutive starts against Oakland on September 1 and
7 and went 0-1, allowing six runs and 15 hits in 13 1/3 innings.
He is 2-3 with a 3.83 ERA in nine career appearances against
the A's, including six starts.
The 26-year-old righthander struggled on the road this season,
going just 2-6 with 6.75 ERA in nine starts.
Game Three will be played at the Metrodome on Friday.