The Twins shook off three errors and overcame a four-run deficit
to stun Tim Hudson and the Athletics, 7-5, in the opener of
their best-of-five American League Division Series.
Making their first postseason appearance since 1991, the Twins -
the best defensive team in the major leagues - looked every bit
the newcomer, committing a pair of errors in the opening
inning, another in the second to fall behind, 5-1.
But the offense picked up the defense, rallying against Hudson -
who had never lost in eight career starts against Minnesota -
and inexperienced lefthander Ted Lilly (0-1) in the sixth.
"I think everyone in this clubhouse had the butterflies. I mean
everyone," outfielder Jacque Jones said. "We were making
mistakes from the get-go. But we've overcome everything thrown
our way this year, so why couldn't we overcome this?"
Corey Koskie's two-run homer in the third off Hudson got
Minnesota within 5-3 and Doug Mientkiewicz homered in the sixth
to slice the deficit to a run. After Oakland left fielder David
Justice misplayed a double by Jones that tied the game, Koskie
plated the go-ahead run with a slow roller to first.
A.J. Pierzynski, who had four hits, tripled home an insurance
run off Cory Lidle in the seventh.
While their defense betrayed them, the Twins got their usual
stellar effort from their vaunted bullpen. After starter Brad
Radke (1-0) struggled through five innings, Johan Santana struck
out two over 1 2/3 scoreless frames.
J.C. Romero allowed a hit over 1 1/3 innings. Eddie Guardado
retired Adam Piatt on a flyout to left with the tying run on
base in the ninth for his first career postseason save.
Hudson, who was 5-0 lifetime against Minnesota and unbeaten
overall since July 25, allowed four runs and eight hits,
including the homers by Koskie and Mientkiewicz.
"I am better than what I pitched today," Hudson said. "That is
what is the most frustrating. They got me on a bad day and I
think that the next time will be a little different."
"This was the worst I've ever seen Tim Hudson pitch,"
Mientkiewicz said. "I mean he was making pitches but it wasn't
the Tim Hudson I've seen before."
Lilly entered with one out in the sixth and, making just his
fifth appearance since July 21, offered little relief. In his
first postseason appearance, the 26-year-old allowed two runs on
three hits and a walk.
The A's have lost in the opening round of the postseason in each
of the last two seasons and now face the prospect of having to
win a game in Minnesota, where the Twins are 15-5 in postseason
"We still have to win. But in the next four games, if we split,
we get to go on," Pierzynski said.
"We have won Game One the last two times and we haven't come out
on top, so hopefully this is a good sign," Oakland third
baseman Eric Chavez said. "We just have to get tomorrow's win
and go into Minnesota with a split."
Game Two is Wednesday with Oakland sending lefthander Mark
Mulder to the mound against Minnesota righthander Joe Mays.
"We have do the same tomorrow and go back to Minnesota hopefully
with two wins," Mientkiewicz said. "I mean, we'd be happy with
Limited to 21 starts this season by a groin pull, Radke was
victimized by his defense in the opening inning. He walked
Scott Hatteberg with one out and Miguel Tejada reached on a
throwing error by shortstop Cristian Guzman.
Chavez singled, scoring Hatteberg, and Tejada came around when
Pierzynski failed to catch the throw home from rookie right
fielder Mike Cuddyer. After a groundout by Jermaine Dye,
Justice made it 3-0 with a bloop single to center field.
The Twins picked up a run in the top of the second but their
defensive woes continued in the bottom half. With two out, Ray
Durham doubled and scored when the Twins failed to catch an
infield pop-up. Tejada reached on a throwing error by third
baseman Koskie, and Chavez made it 5-1 with a base hit.
"We just had to overcome our mistakes," Jones said. "I think
Brad pitched far better than his numbers indicate he did."
After Koskie's third-inning homer got Minnesota within 5-3, Howe
made a difficult call in the sixth, when Hudson allowed a
leadoff home run to Mientkiewicz and got Cuddyer on a groundout.
Howe pulled his starter after just 77 pitches and turned to
Lilly, who battled shoulder inflammation in the second half of
Pierzynski greeted the reliever with a single, Luis Rivas
followed with a base hit and Jones doubled to the wall in left
field. Justice appeared to have a play on the ball but mistimed
his leap, allowing Pierzynski to score easily. After Guzman
walked, Koskie bounced to first, plating Rivas with the go-ahead
"I was ready," Lilly said. "I was in the situation and I knew
what was going on. Tim didn't have his best stuff today. When he
came out, we were still ahead. My job going in there is to
keep the score where it was at that time. It is tough for me to
go in there and walk out being down. I didn't get my job done
"I thought that I had some gas in my tank," Hudson said. "I only
had 70-some pitches, but they thought that going to a
lefty-lefty matchup was better. I am not upset that they took me
out at all. I just still felt good enough to get guys out."
The A's threatened in the sixth, but Santana struck out Tejada
and retired Chavez on a comebacker to end the inning.
Pierzynski's RBI triple in the seventh made it 7-5 and Oakland
did not mount a threat until Justice and Mark Ellis reached in
the ninth. But Guardado, who led the AL in saves, got Piatt -
pinch-hitting for Terrence Long - on a 3-2 pitch.
"I was nervous out there, no doubt about it," Guardado said. "I
think we all were. But we stuck together just like we have all
year. We showed what we were made of and we kept our heads in
it. We could have rolled over but we ended up winning this game
and showing what this team is about."
"It was nerves, I mean everyone had them," Cuddyer said. "There
were jitters, too. But we were able to come back and get the
A's infielder Olmedo Saenz suffered a ruptured right Achilles
tendon in the eighth inning and will be lost for the postseason.
"That was horrible," Hatteberg said. "You don't ever want to see
anyone get injured. Obviously we are going to miss him in the