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Updated: Sunday October 13, 2002 10:50 PM
  MLB RECAP
Minnesota Twins
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R H E
5 9 0
 
Anaheim Angels
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R H E
13 18 0
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  Kevin Appier
  Adam Kennedy

ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- It's only appropriate that a team owned by The Walt Disney Co. reached the World Series in fairy tale fashion.

Adam Kennedy tied a postseason record with three home runs, including a go-ahead three-run shot in a 10-run seventh inning, as the Anaheim Angels closed out the Minnesota Twins, 13-5, in Game Five of the American League Championship Series.

After Minnesota rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh against rookie sensation Francisco Rodriguez (4-0) to take a 5-3 lead, the Angels blitzed the Twins' bullpen in the bottom of the inning.

The most dramatic blow was Kennedy's blast just over the wall in right-center field off reliever Johan Santana (0-1). Kennedy, who had just seven homers during the season, hit solo shots in the third and fifth innings off starter Joe Mays but started the pivotal at-bat trying to sacrifice.

Kennedy could not get down the bunt and fouled off two more pitches before Santana hung an 0-2 breaking ball that the third-year second baseman punished for a 6-5 lead.

"On the first pitch the bunt was on and I fouled it off," Kennedy said. "I took a couple of bad swings on the first couple pitches after that. Then, Santana left one over the plate and I got it."

"In that situation, we were trying to get a bunt down," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Once he got a strike, we looked at the configuration, they were pitching for a bunt. We thought it was good to let Adam turn it loose and see if he can get a pitch to hit. A couple pitches later, he did."

By the time Bob Wells finally struck out Alex Ochoa to end the seventh, the Angels had sent 15 men to the plate, set ALCS records for runs and hits (10) in an inning and touched off a celebration at Edison International Field.

"We couldn't stop them today," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It just got down to that. They're on a roll. We threw everything we had at them. We took a lead and felt pretty good about it. Those guys just keep playing. And they keep swinging, and goodness gracious, I don't know I've ever seen an inning like that. We couldn't get anybody out."

The party atmosphere came to a head when shortstop David Eckstein squeezed Tom Prince's popout to end the game. The Angels mobbed longtime closer Troy Percival near the mound and Anaheim fans, who had endured a 16-year drought since the team's last postseason appearance, cheered wildly.

"It's such a great achievement for these guys," Scioscia said. "I know they're honored and they're having a good time now, but what an effort they gave. I congratulate them."

"I think it's a commitment of team spirit," Disney chairman Michael Eisner said. "The team metephor is something I believe in. Usually it's a metaphor for the other teams, but in this case we've got a team that acts like a perfect team.

"If someone handed me a script and said you're going to start the season 6-14 and then you're going to score 10 runs in the seventh inning of the last game, I'd have said, 'No, no, no. Let's go back and make this more realistic. It's too Disneyesque.'"

Kennedy, who joined Bob Robertson of the Pittsburgh Pirates and George Brett of the Kansas City Royals as the only players to hit three homers in an LCS game, went 4-for-4 with five RBI and was named Most Valuable Player of the series.

Kennedy was just 1-for-10 in the opening four games.

"I got a couple pitches to hit, and on some days you get those pitches, you miss them," he said. "I had my swing working today and I didn't miss those pitches."

The Angels will host Game One of the World Series on Saturday against the winner of the National League Championship Series. San Francisco has a two games to one lead over St. Louis in that series.

"We still have one more step to go, one more series left," Angels third baseman Troy Glaus said. "We know where we want to go and we'll go from there."

"Everybody's been waiting to get to the World Series," Eckstein added. "Now we have the opportunity. This team has come together and gelled and it shows out on the field in the way we came back today."

The late-inning meltdown put a damper on an otherwise stellar season for the Twins, who overcame talk of contraction to easily win the AL Central Division. Minnesota stunned Oakland in the AL Division Series and took the opener of this series before dropping four straight games.

"It's a great story, we got to the postseason," Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We knew we could win this year, we had a great feeling going into the season and we won 93 games or whatever to get in the playoffs. We're proud of the way we played and we're not going to hang our heads."

"We can look back with pride on our season, we didn't make the World Series, but we go to the division playoffs and got to the ALCS," Twins center fielder Torii Hunter said. "We're going to get older and smarter. I had a taste of it and I want to taste it again."

The Twins appeared to be in good position to send the series back to Minnesota by getting to Rodriguez for three runs in the top of the seventh.

The 20-year-old rightander, who had a 1.93 ERA in his first six postseason appearances, inherited a bases-loaded jam from fellow rookie Brendan Donnelly. Looking little like the pitcher that struck out 15 in 9 1/3 postseason innings, Rodriguez walked Bobby Kielty on a 3-2 pitch to force home the tying run.

Rodriguez then uncorked a wild pitch that plated rookie Dustan Mohr with the go-ahead run and could not finish off Jacque Jones, who lofted a sacrifice fly for a 5-3 lead.

Santana escaped a jam in the sixth but was not as fortunate in the seventh. Scott Spiezio opened the inning with a hit and Bengie Molina singled. After Kennedy gave the Angels the lead with his fourth homer of the postseason, Gardenhire called upon LaTroy Hawkins.

Eckstein beat out an infield hit and singles by Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon loaded the bases. Gardenhire turned to J.C. Romero, but he struggled, walking Garret Anderson to force home a run.

Glaus struck out for the first out of the inning but Shawn Wooten made it 8-3 with a single and pinch runner Ochoa scored on a wild pitch. Spiezio recorded his second hit of the inning, a two-run single, that pushed the lead to 11-3 and finished Romero.

Wells came on and allowed back-to-back singles before Eckstein was hit by a pitch to plate a run. Erstad capped the inning with an RBI groundout.

"It was an incredible inning," Spiezio said. "Everybody on this team contriubted. It was just unbelieveable. I know (Kennedy) is feeling real good, I know the fans were pumped up, especially when he hit that last one that put us ahead."

"We put on a good burst against that Rodriguez kid out there throwing darts, we got some runs and we got a lead. Unfortunately for us, we just couldn't hold them," Gardenhire said. "We couldn't stop them. No matter who we put out there, we could not stop them. Everybody that went in there gave up hits and runs."

The final innings served as a cocktail hour as fans continued to roar, eagerly anticipating the postgame celebration.

Minnesota got single runs in the first and second but Kennedy's homer leading off the third halved the deficit. Spiezio opened the fifth with his second homer of the postseason to tie the game, and six pitches later, Kennedy gave Anaheim the lead with a blast to right-center field.

Mays allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. He did not walk a batter but was pulled after struggling in the sixth.

Anaheim starter Kevin Appier allowed two runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out one before turning the game over to Donnelly, who cruised through the sixth before faltering in the seventh.

Spiezio had a big series for the Angels, hitting .353 (6-for-17) with a homer, five RBI and five runs scored.

Rodriguez and Percival combined to go 2-0 with two saves and 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 scoreless innings.

The Twins were done in by their top of the batting order as Jones hit .100 (2-for-20) and Cristian Guzman .167 (3-for-18). Minnesota scored just 12 runs in the five games.

© 2002 Sportsticker
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