MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- An unlikely pair of teams begin the
American League Championship Series on Tuesday night when the
Minnesota Twins, once a possible candidate for contraction, face
the Anaheim Angels in Game One.
Minnesota and Anaheim each registered upsets of 103-win clubs in
the Division Series to get to this point. The Twins defeated
the Oakland Athletics in five games and the Angels ousted the
four-time defending AL champion New York Yankees in four games.
"If you get to a League Championship series, there's no
underdogs," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We beat the
Oakland A's, one of the best teams in the game, and they beat
the New York Yankees, another one of the best teams in the game.
We just see a great Anaheim team. We don't see either of us as
The Twins became the third American League team to win a
decisive Game Five on the road since 1995 with a 5-4 victory at
Oakland on Sunday. Brad Radke pitched 6 2/3 strong innings,
yielding only a run and five hits and not issuing a walk.
Minnesota extended a 2-1 lead with three runs in the top of the
ninth inning on a two-run homer by A.J. Pierzynski and an RBI
double by David Ortiz. But closer Eddie Guardado surrendered a
three-run homer to Mark Ellis before getting Ray Durham for the
final out with the tying run on first base.
The Twins received some bad news when second baseman Denny
Hocking had his middle finger injured in a pileup during the
celebration. Hocking, who went 2-for-4 on Sunday, was starting
in place of Luis Rivas, who is suffering from a hamstring
problem. Minnesota has replaced Hocking on the roster with David
Joe Mays (0-1, 14.73 ERA) gets the ball for Minnesota. Mays made
his first career postseason start in Game Two at Oakland and
was torched for six runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 9-1
But this start will be at home for Mays, where he pitched
slightly better with a 2-2 record and a 4.21 ERA in eight starts
in the Metrodome this year.
"You know, I love throwing at the dome," Mays said. "This is
where I wanted to get back, get an opportunity to throw here in
front of the home crowd. Back to the familiar territory. I love
going out there, I feel at home out there, even though, you
know, it's turf and I throw a lot of ground balls. I know the
ball gets through there quick, but I have a lot more confidence
out there in the dome."
The righthander did not face the Angels this season and owns a
1-3 career mark with a 3.42 ERA against them.
Anaheim, making its first playoff appearance since 1986, lost
the opener to the Yankees before winning the final three games
for its first postseason series victory in franchise history.
The Angels simply battered the Yankees' pitching, scoring 31
runs and banging out 56 hits in the four games.
The Angels' .376 batting average was the highest ever by a team
in a postseason series. Darin Erstad, Scott Spiezio, Garret
Anderson and Troy Glaus combined to bat .382 (26-for-68) with
five homers and 15 RBI. Anaheim also got contributions from
unheralded players such as Benji Gil and Shawn Wooten, who
combined to bat .714 (10-for-14) and score five runs.
"The way these guys were hitting the ball was incredible,"
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I thought they had a good
game plan, matched up against some very, very tough pitchers. We
hit the ball, you know, I won't say better than we expected,
but we hit the ball about as well as we could against the
Anaheim will turn to veteran righthander Kevin Appier (0-0,
5.40). Appier stared Game Two against the Yankees and allowed
three runs and five hits and did not figure in the decision in
an 8-6 victory.
Appier went 0-2 with a 4.38 ERA in a pair of starts against the
Twins this season and is 8-6 lifetime against them. He is 4-1
lifetime at the Metrodome after yielding four runs and nine hits
in 6 2/3 innings in a 4-2 loss here on June 1.
"(It's) probably the loudest game I've pitched in," Appier said.
"I've pitched in full stadiums, but inside the dome, it's going
to be that much more intense. It's easy to block that out. The
biggest problem is going to be communication for the fielders on
the fly balls, coupled with, you know, trying to see the ball
in the roof."
Appier went 8-4 with a 4.13 ERA on the road in the regular
Minnesota won five of nine meetings with Anaheim this year,
including a split of six games at the Metrodome, where the Twins
are 12-2 all-time in postseason games.
The visiting team has won Game One of the ALCS the last two