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Twins’ run on A’s continues against Anaheim

By Ronlad Blum The Associated Press
Wednesday October 09, 2002

MINNEAPOLIS — Fifty-five thousand screaming fans on their feet, rocking the Metrodome and waving their Homer Hankies. Excellent pitching, timely hitting and a tense one-run game. 

The Minnesota Twins aren’t going to go away. 

They even grounded the high-flying Anaheim Angels, the team that broke all those offensive records last week against the New York Yankees. 

“Just so much energy, so much enthusiasm,” Joe Mays said after limiting Anaheim to four singles in eight innings and leading Minnesota to a 2-1 win Tuesday night in the opener of this improbable AL championship series. 

“Wow, that was just ... wow!” catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. 

The team that wasn’t supposed to make it to opening day isn’t a surprise anymore. Even Bud Selig knows that. After trying to kill off the team, the baseball commissioner showed up and saw Minnesota move within three wins of its first World Series in 11 years. 

“I’m glad he came out to give us some support,” Twins outfielder Torii Hunter said. “We won’t fault him for all of that that happened. Bud was just doing his job.” 

Signaling the time has come to forget the Yankees, Braves and other big spenders who have dominated the playoffs in recent years, the Twins showed just how dominant they are in the Metrodome, improving to 13-2 there in postseason play. Game 2 is in the dome Wednesday night, with Rick Reed pitching for the Twins against Ramon Ortiz. 

The Metrodome was festive and loud for its biggest baseball game since Oct. 27, 1991, when Jack Morris’ 10-inning shutout beat Atlanta 1-0 in Game 7 of the World Series. 

This was another tight one, with Anaheim’s Kevin Appier almost matching Mays. The Twins got just five hits and the Angels four, and the crowd was on its feet shouting during key points and throughout the ninth inning. 

“This is the game we play against Anaheim every time,” Pierzynski said. “One run, one way or the other, one pitch decides it. It’s exciting baseball. You can’t ask for much more as a fan or as a player.” 

Baseball owners had tried to fold the Twins along with the Montreal Expos last offseason, but were blocked by the Minnesota courts. Since then, the Twins have seemed intent on banging the gavel on all of baseball, wanting to force Selig to hand them the World Series trophy. 

“Contract-ula-tions Twins for a superb season/All the way for Bud’s sake” read one sign behind home plate. 

“I think the place had a lot of electricity in it. Obviously, the fans were into it,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “They looked like they were reacting to every pitch. I thought it was a great atmosphere.” 

Anaheim, too, is a surprise to be here. The Angels are seeking their first World Series appearance since joining the major leagues in 1961. 

Mays, hit hard by Oakland in Game 2 of the five-game division series, shut down the Angels, who hit .376 in their four-game victory over the four-time defending AL champion Yankees — the highest average by a team in any postseason series. 

“He had everything tonight,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He went right at the hitters and made them swing the bats.” 

Mays allowed only four hits and an unearned run caused by an error by shortstop Cristian Guzman. Mays, who threw 68 of 98 pitches for strikes, called it “the game of my career” and described the atmosphere as “overwhelming.” 

“There was just so much energy, so much enthusiasm in the crowd,” he said. “To go out there and give them a good game to watch — I think that gives them the reward.” 

Mays, who struck out three and walked none, came out after the eighth inning. He retired his final 13 batters but tightened up a little after the eighth and told his manager he wouldn’t mind if Eddie Guardado finished. 

“I would have given him the ball. He had the option to go back out there in the ninth,” Gardenhire said. 

Guardado struck out Darin Erstad leading off the ninth, then walked Tim Salmon. After Garret Anderson flied out, he threw a called third strike to Troy Glaus, who glared at plate umpire Ed Montague. 

“I asked him if it was down. He said ’No, it was a good pitch.’ I came back and looked at it on the film, and it was a good pitch,” Glaus said. “He was right.” 

Anaheim, whose .282 regular-season batting average led the major leagues, didn’t get a single leadoff man on and hit .129 (4-for-31). Last week, the Angels batted .361 against the Yankees with two-strike counts. They were 0-for-14 with two strikes against the Twins. 

“Everything was on the black,” said Adam Kennedy, who scored Anaheim’s only run. “We just didn’t pressure them tonight.” 

Appier, winless in four postseason appearances gave up two runs and five hits in five innings, but it wasn’t enough. 

Minnesota went ahead in the second when Hunter doubled, advanced on a wild pitch and came home on Pierzynski’s sacrifice fly. 

Anaheim tied it in the third on singles by Kennedy and David Eckstein, and the error by Guzman on a grounder by Erstad that stayed down on the slick artificial surface. Minnesota had the fewest errors in the major leagues during the regular season (74) and Anaheim (87) was second in the AL.