The Twins, the target of contraction talks this offseason,
advanced to the League Championship Series. They will host the
Anaheim Angels in Game One of the best-of-seven series on
"In the offseason when (the contraction) happened we were kind
of down about it, but we stayed strong and it's a strong
baseball team," Radke said. "We don't really think about that.
"I don't want to say it's destiny, but we just have to go out
there and play our game. We just have to take this game and go
on into Tuesday and just play our game, pitch our game and just
play our defense."
Playing in one of the game's smallest markets and fielding a
team with one of the league's lowest payrolls, the Twins cruised
to the AL Central Division title but were heavy underdogs
against the A's, who were making their third postseason
appearance in as many years.
After splitting the first two games in Oakland, the A's won Game
Three in Minnesota but for the third time in as many Division
Series appearances failed to close the deal.
Minnesota routed Oakland on Saturday and, despite the short
turnaround, managed to do just enough to get by Sunday - and
Radke was the key.
After winning Game One, Radke (2-0) came through in the biggest
outing of his eight-year career. The 29-year-old righthander
allowed five singles and a homer. He did not walk a batter and
struck out four.
"Brad started out good and finished up good," Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "He has been our man for a long time here. And
he did it again today. He picked up our baseball team again and
it was vintage Brad Radke, used all his pitches, got us through
the seventh inning, and it was pretty good."
"Brad is a competitor, he will fight you, and he wants to win,"
Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "I know he was nervous, he
will never tell me he was nervous, but I was nervous. This was a
game we had to win to keep playing and stay around. He threw
incredible. He made one mistake and Ray Durham hit out of the
park. Other than that, he was lights out. He didn't miss too
J.C. Romero tossed a scoreless inning and LaTroy Hawkins got the
final out in eighth. With the Twins clinging to a 2-1 lead
heading into the ninth, Pierzynski gave closer Guardado some
breathing room with a two-run homer off Billy Koch.
David Ortiz added a two-out, run-scoring double off Koch that
seemed insignificant at the time but proved crucial.
Guardado inherited a 5-1 lead to start the bottom of the ninth
but gave up a leadoff single to Eric Chavez and a one-out double
to David Justice. Mark Ellis then lined a homer to left that
got Oakland within 5-4.
Guardado retired Terrence Long on a flyout but Randy Velarde
blooped a single into right field, bringing the go-ahead run to
the plate. Guardado fell behind Durham but got the A's
designated hitter to foulout to second baseman Denny Hocking.
When Hocking hauled in Durham's popup, the Twins mobbed Guardado
at the mound. Making its first postseason appearance since
1991, Minnesota improved to 7-3 in elimination games.
"I am telling you, that was an emotional last inning,"
Gardenhire said."I was torn whether I should go get him. I have
left him out there, he has been our guy all year long, and you
get to that situation, should you go get him? This is about
winning, and I left him out there, I said, `He has got to get
Durham out,' and it was the hardest decision I have had all
year, and it was very tough, but I wanted that young man out
"To have Denny Hocking catch the great out, what a great feeling
for him, and guys on the mound, guys that have been here a long
time and been through some bad seasons," Pierzynski said.
The A's finished tied for the most wins in baseball but lost in
Game Five for the third straight year. They fell to 2-8 in
Mark Mulder (1-1), who beat the Twins in Game Two, allowed two
runs and nine hits in seven innings.
"They just out-played us," Mulder said. "We played a good game
but they were just better. We didn't make any mistakes and neither
did they. They just beat us. But that's what this series was
The Twins were aggressive early but it cost them. Cristian
Guzman doubled with one out in the first but easily was thrown
out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
Oakland got a leadoff single from Durham in the bottom of the
first. He stole second with two outs, but Chavez flied out to
the warning track in right field.
Minnesota did push across a run in the second but missed out on
a chance for more. Matt LeCroy beat out an infield hit and
Torii Hunter doubled into the left field corner. Doug
Mientkiewicz lined out and, after rookie Michael Cuddyer was
walked intentionally, Pierzynski popped out.
Hocking singled up the middle and LeCroy scored easily, but
Hunter was held at third and stranded there when Jacque Jones
struck out on four pitches.
The Twins tacked on another run in the third when Guzman opened
the inning with a double and scored on LeCroy's single.
Durham's third career postseason homer, a two-out shot in the
third halved the deficit.
The Twins again played it conservatively in the fourth, holding
up Cuddyer at third on a one-out double by Hocking. Again,
Jones struck out and Guzman flied to right-center to end the
Oakland stranded a runner in the fourth and did nothing with a
leadoff single by Ellis in the fifth. The A's left a runner on
in the sixth and wasted another leadoff single in the seventh.
Durham had a one-out single in the eighth but Romero struck out
pinch hitter Adam Piatt on four pitches. Hawkins then struck
out Tejada on a high fastball to end the inning, setting the
stage for the wild ninth.
Koch started the ninth and walked Dustan Mohr on a 3-2 pitch.
Pierzynski hit Koch's next offering over the wall in right field
for his first career postseason home run.
Pierzynski was 7-for-16 with with four runs scored and four RBI
in the series.
Koch rebounded from the Pierzynski home run to retire the next
two batters but Guzman beat out an infield single and stole
second. After Corey walked on a 3-2 pitch, Ortiz doubled into
the right-center field gap, plating Guzman with what proved to
be the decisive run.
The game could be the final contest for Justice, who has
intimated he will retire.
"I'm going to take some time," Justice said. "But I'm still
99.9 percent sure I'm going to retire. I just felt this was our
year. And not to be going on hurts a little. We never played our
best out there."