OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- The Oakland Athletics will try
to rid themselves of the memories of lost Game Fives from the
past two seasons when they host the Minnesota Twins in the fifth
and decisive game of their American League Division Series.
Oakland has lost Game Fives to the New York Yankees in the
Division Series the last two seasons and is trying to win a
playoff series for the first time since defeating Boston in the
AL Championship Series in 1990. The Athletics last played in the
ALCS in 1992, when they lost to Toronto.
Minnesota kept its season alive with an easy 11-2 victory in
Game Four at home on Saturday. A.J. Pierzynski and Cristian
Guzman each scored on a pair of wild pitches to highlight a
seven-run fourth inning that gave the Twins a commanding 9-2
Miguel Tejada drilled a two-run homer in the third inning to
give Oakland an early lead. The Twins tied it the bottom of the
inning when Pierzynski scored on a groundout and David Ortiz
added an RBI double.
Oakland's defense let it down as first baseman Scott Hatteberg
committed a costly error in the fourth and starter Tim Hudson
and Ted Lilly each uncorked wild pitches. The A's committed
three errors in their Game Five loss at the Yankees last year.
Mark Mulder (1-0, 1.50 ERA) will pitch on three days' rest for
Oakland. Mulder won Game Two by yielding one run and five hits
in six innings and threw 90 pitches. He pitched on three days'
rest against the Yankees in the decisive game a year ago and
allowed four runs and seven hits in just 4 1/3 innings suffered
the loss in a 5-3 defeat.
"This is my second chance in a Game Five situation, it's kind of
my chance for redemption," Mulder said. "I didn't give as good
of a performance as I would have liked last year, so it'll be
fun to get another chance this year."
The lefthander is 5-2 lifetime against Minnesota, including the
victory in Game Two. Mulder is unbeaten in his last 10 starts
since a loss to the Yankees to August 11.
"We can't think about past games tomorrow, we just need a win,"
Tejada said. "We have a lot of confidence in Mark, he's one of
the best in the game. And we'll be out there backing him up."
Minnesota will have the advantage of sending Brad Radke (1-0,
1.80) to the mound on his regular four days' of rest. Radke won
Game One by yielding five runs - one earned - and eight hits in
five innings in a 7-5 triumph.
The righthander is 4-5 lifetime at Network Associates Coliseum.
Radke realizes that this start will be different than his first
"It will definitely be bigger than Game One, but I am going to
go out there and pitch like I did in Game One," Radke said.
"It's going to be, you know, live or die. It's going to be a
deciding game, of course, but I can't let that get into my head.
I just have to go out there and take the same approach I did in
Minnesota has a decision to make with its lineup against Mulder.
The Twins had four lefthanders in the lineup against him in
Game Two with righthanded rookie Matthew LeCroy serving as the
designated hitter instead of lefty David Ortiz. LeCroy had a
pair of hits in three at-bats against Mulder.
"It's going to be a big game, they are all big now, but we will
go back out there and take our chances," Minnesota manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "We got Radke going, he is ready, all set up,
and they got Mulder. It's going to be a very good baseball
The Twins used five lefthanders, including Ortiz, in the lineup
on Friday against Barry Zito in a 6-3 loss in Game Three.
Oakland needs some increased productivity from some of its key
members in the lineup. Tejada is batting just .190 (4-for-21)
with six RBI and David Justice is hitting just .200 (4-for-20).
The A's are 0-5 in games in which they can close out their
opponent the last three seasons. Oakland is just 2-5 at home
over that span.
"We are playing in our own backyard and our fans will be
supporting us like theirs were," Oakland manager Art Howe said.
"But the bottom line is, we must play a little better to get it
done. And we expect to do that."