Eric Milton allowed two runs in seven innings and the Twins took
advantage of a string of miscues to score seven times in the
fourth and rout the A's, 11-2, forcing a decisive fifth game in
their American League Division Series.
After losing in the Metrodome for just the second time in 13
postseason games, the Twins bounced back with a huge effort,
erasing an early deficit and breaking open a tight contest by
scoring seven unearned runs in the fourth.
The game drew a Metrodome-record 55,960, and many fans stayed on
their feet from the start.
"I think it was big," Twins first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said
of the crowd. "They were really in the game early. They were
screaming, `Let's go, Twins' before Milton even threw a pitch.
They are great. It was a heck of an atmosphere."
"That one inning was what it is all about," Hunter said. "The
fans were cheering even when we were up nine runs. They are
great. We needed that."
By staving off elimination, the Twins earned the right to head
back to Oakland. The heavily favored Athletics face a Game Five
in the Division Series for the third straight year. Oakland
lost both of those previous contests and is 3-9 in its last 12
postseason home games.
Game Five is Sunday, with the A's sending Game Two winner Mark
Mulder against Brad Radke, who won Game One.
Oakland, which was able to withstand the indoor uproar in Game
Three, took an early lead in this one as Miguel Tejada ripped a
two-run homer off Milton (1-0) in the third.
But the Twins tied it in the bottom of the inning on a
run-scoring groundout by Cristian Guzman and a ground-rules
double by David Ortiz.
Mientkiewicz opened the fourth with a single and A.J. Pierzynski
walked one out later. Luis Rivas bounced a chopper in the hole
between shortstop and third base. Tejada fielded the ball and
tossed to third, but his throw was high and wide, allowing
Mientkiewicz to score.
"I have no excuse for that," Tejada said. "I threw a little
off-balance because I thought that was the only chance I had for
making a play. It wasn't too close or anything, I just threw
Unnerved, Hudson (0-2) uncorked a wild pitch that plated
Pierzynski, then hit Jacque Jones. Oakland manager Art Howe
brought the infield in and the strategy appeared to work when
first baseman Scott Hatteberg fielded a bouncer in front of the
bag. But his throw to the plate short-hopped Ramon Hernandez
and Rivas scored for a 5-2 lead.
"I was going to come home with it, but I stuttered my feet and
made a bad throw," Hatteberg said. "The whole inning was a lot
of bad timing."
With the crowd in a frenzy, Howe went to Ted Lilly, but Corey
Koskie greeted the lefthander with a base hit up the middle that
scored Jones. David Ortiz struck out, but Lilly fired wild to
the plate, scoring Guzman, and Hunter made it 8-2 with a double
to the left-center field gap.
Mientkiewicz capped the biggest inning in Division Series
history with an RBI single - his second hit in the frame. The
last player with two hits in an inning in the postseason was
Chuck Knoblauch, who accomplished the feat for the New York
Yankees in the 2000 Division Series.
"I think everybody picked each other up," Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "We had some big two-out base hits, so it kind
of got the ball rolling, and once that thing starts rolling,
everybody wants to get involved in it."
"We just made a couple throwing errors in the same inning, and
that kind of opened the door," Howe said.
Oakland could do little to stem the tide.
"They strung a lot of hits together after that and broke the
game wide-open. But Hudson pitched a lot better than the way it
looked," Howe said. "He should have been out of that inning
with no runs being scored, but that's baseball."
"The fourth inning was one of those deals that snowballs on
you," Hudson added. "I battled early in the inning, but they
put pressure on us and we couldn't make plays."
Staked to the huge lead, Milton cruised. The 27-year-old
lefthander allowed six hits and a walk. He struck out three and
threw 75 of 108 pitches for strikes in his first postseason
Milton retired seven straight batters between the fourth and
sixth innings. He allowed more than one runner in an inning
"I felt pretty good and I made one mistake," Milton said. "But
when your guys come back and tie the score, it's easy to forget
about that. ... It's nice to see the guys hitting and running
around the bases. So I try to stay loose. And when you get out
there, you have to calm yourself down, the next inning you have
to be ready for the next hitter. And that's what I did."
"The real story of the day was Milton, I thought. Milton did
what we needed to have done," Gardenhire said. "He shut them
down and gave us a chance to have a big inning, and it was a
Kyle Lohse allowed a hit over the final two innings. He has
tossed four scoreless frames in the series, striking out five.
Hudson, who allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings on
Tuesday, was worse in Game Four. The talented righthander
surrendered seven runs - just two earned - and five hits in 3
"We knew it wouldn't be easy today," Hudson said. "Milton is
tough and their team took advantage of our miscues. After that
fourth inning, it was going to be tough for us to rebound. Our
guys make those plays with their eyes closed most of the time.
Things just happened today."
Lilly yielded four runs and seven hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Oakland's Jermaine Dye went 3-for-3 and is 7-for-16 in the
The 11 runs tied the Twins' postseason high, set against St.
Louis in Game Six of the 1987 World Series.