MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- After splitting two games on the road,
the Minnesota Twins return to what is expected to be an
energized crowd Friday at the Metrodome for Game Three of their
American League Division Series with the Oakland Athletics.
Minnesota, in the playoffs for the first time since 1991,
overcame a four-run deficit and three errors in Game One at
Network Associates Coliseum to post a 7-5 victory on Tuesday.
The Athletics rebounded in Game Two with a 9-1 romp. Eric Chavez
hit a three-run homer in the first inning, David Justice ripped
a three-run triple to highlight a five-run fourth and
lefthander Mark Mulder limited the Twins to one run through six
"We had an opportunity to go home up 2-0 but we are going there
1-1," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It was a disappointing
loss for us in that we were blown out."
Despite being in the postseason for the third straight year, the
A's drew less than 35,000 fans in each of the first two games.
The Twins expect over 50,000 with nearly all waving white "Homer
Minnesota, which batted just .252 against lefthanders in the
regular season, faces another tough one in Barry Zito on Friday.
Zito (23-5, 2.75 ERA) was the third different 20-game winner in
as many seasons for Oakland and led the league in victories. He
has one of the best curveballs in the major leagues and finished
the regular season by winning eight straight decisions.
The 24-year-old Zito entered the season with an 0-2 record and
10.54 ERA in three appearances against Minnesota. But he went
1-0 in two starts against the Twins this year, limiting them to
three runs and 10 hits in 15 innings.
Zito has a win and a loss in a pair of Division Series starts
against the New York Yankees, allowing two earned runs and nine
hits in 13 2/3 innings.
The Twins ended Oakland's 20-game winning streak with a 6-0
victory here on September 6, but the A's took the final two
games of that series. In the finale, Zito tossed seven
brilliant innings and became the American League's first 20-game
winner in a 6-0 victory.
After that loss, the Twins won eight of their final nine home
games to finish 54-27 at the Metrodome, tying Oakland and
Anaheim for the best home record in the AL. The Twins are 11-1
all-time in postseason games at the Metrodome.
"Yeah, but they're not 11-1 because of the noise," Justice said.
"They're 11-1 because they know how to play at their stadium.
They have speed, guys who can chop some baseballs into the turf
and get those type of base hits.
"The crowd and the noise, that's not the reason why they're good
at home, because they haven't played in front of a crowd like
we are going to have here in these two games."
Rick Reed (15-7, 3.78), who went 8-4 with a 3.94 ERA at home
this season, takes the mound for the Twins. Reed was 3-0 with a
2.90 ERA in five appearances in September. The righthander
started at Oakland on July 2 and did not receive a decision
after allowing one run and five hits in seven innings.
Reed pitched in the NL Division Series in 1999 and 2000 with the
New York Mets and was 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in a pair of starts.