MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Minnesota Twins look to keep their
season alive on Saturday afternoon when they send Eric Milton to
the mound in Game Four of their American League Division Series
against the Oakland Athletics.
Minnesota fell to 11-2 all time in postseason games at the
Metrodome after a 6-3 loss on Friday afternoon. The Twins
rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game but failed to score
in the final three innings against the Athletics' bullpen.
Milton (NR), who went 13-9 with a 4.84 ERA in the regular
season, will be making his first career postseason start. He was
winless in his last five starts of the regular season, going
0-2 with a 6.64 ERA. The lefthander indicated that the knee
problems that caused him to leave a start on August 6 are behind
"Well, I am kind of glad it happened when it did and not later
in the season, so I had time to come back in September and get a
few starts under my belt and get back on track," Milton said.
"It could have happened in September, at the end of September,
and that wouldn't have been a good situation."
The 27-year-old Milton lost to Oakland here on September 8 by
yielding three runs and four hits in four innings in a 6-0
defeat. He is 5-3 lifetime with a 5.15 ERA against the
Milton was just 7-6 with a 4.23 ERA at home in 18 starts this
year and is looking forward to the challenge of trying to force
a fifth game in the series.
"You know, I really haven't had many big games," Milton said.
"We are trying to get to where the A's have been, perennial
postseason powers, and we are trying to get there, so (Saturday)
will definitely be the biggest game of my career, no doubt."
Oakland is within one game of advancing to the American League
Championship Series for the third straight year after hitting
four homers on Friday. Jermaine Dye had the big blow as he
drilled a leadoff blast off Rick Reed in the sixth inning to
snap a 3-3 tie.
The Athletics opened the game strong as Ray Durham had an
inside-the-park homer and Scott Hatteberg followed by connecting
off Reed's 1-0 pitch for a 2-0 lead. Terrence Long homered in
the fourth to make it 3-0.
A.J. Pierzynski's RBI single in the bottom of the fourth got the
Twins on the board and they tied it in the fifth when Corey
Koskie tripled in a run and Torii Hunter singled him home.
Dye responded with his homer and the A's added a pair of runs in
the seventh on an RBI double by Randy Velarde and a sacrifice
fly by Miguel Tejada. Oakland's bullpen did the rest as Ricardo
Rincon worked a pair of innings and closer Billy Koch allowed a
hit in the ninth for his first save.
After winning the first game, Minnesota has managed just four
runs in losing the last two.
"We have to score runs, bottom line," Pierzynski said. "Outside
of the first game, we have not scored runs."
Tim Hudson (0-0, 6.75) looks to bounce back after a rough start
in Game One for Oakland. Hudson, who is pitching on three days'
rest, yielded four runs and eight hits in in 5 1/3 innings, his
shortest outing since July 17.
Hudson does not believe he will be affected by throwing on three
"I don't think it's going to be that much of a factor," he said.
"Obviously, coming out of the game as early as I did will help
out a little bit, but I think being a sinker ball pitcher, I
don't think it's going to bother me much, at all. So I think
coming back a day early, you know, hopefully it may help me out
a little bit with some of my sinkers and keeping the ball down
in the zone."
Hudson came out of the bullpen on three days' rest last season
in Game Five of the ALDS against the New York Yankees and
allowed a run and two hits in 1 2/3 innings.
The 26-year-old righthander is 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA in five
career starts at the Metrodome. Hudson allowed just four hits in
seven scoreless innings in his last start here, a 7-2 victory
on July 18, 2001.
Oakland is 0-4 the past two seasons when it has had an
opportunity to close out the Division Series.