Archive for Friday, October 8, 2004

Tired Twins ready to bounce back

October 8, 2004


— Too tired to take batting practice, the bleary-eyed Minnesota Twins milled around the Metrodome just hours after another postseason rally by the New York Yankees evened their first-round AL playoff series at one game each.

"I've just got this feeling," center fielder Torii Hunter said. "I can't explain it. I look at the guys, and I see them talking and laughing and joking. ... They're not like quiet and seeming like they're scared. Ready! These guys are ready to play. Every day, every inning, as we showed last night."

Two outs from taking a 2-0 lead in this best-of-five matchup, the Twins let the Yankees score twice in the 12th inning for a 7-6 victory after getting two runs off Mariano Rivera to tie it in the eighth.

"I thought we had that game won," said Hunter, whose homer put the Twins ahead in the top of the 12th.

"I guess the mystique came and got us. I don't believe in that, but I'm just saying," Hunter joked, one of several one-liners cracked in the clubhouse.

After a similar split last year at Yankee Stadium, New York outscored Minnesota, 11-2, in the next two days at the Metrodome to advance to an AL championship series matchup with Boston.

The Twins insisted they weren't in awe of baseball's highest-paid team, which had the best record in the American League at 101-61.

"They are not intimidated by anything," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Carlos Silva pitches for the Twins tonight against Kevin Brown, and Game 1 winner Johan Santana is likely to start Game 4 on Saturday night against Orlando Hernandez or Javier Vazquez.

"So now they're going to say we're done," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Everybody says, 'Well, they can't handle a loss like that.' ... I'll guarantee it: This team will come out fighting."

Gardenhire had a rough night -- well after watching the Yankees come back against Joe Nathan. Gardenhire's wife, Carol, lost their car keys, so he called his daughter to come get them at the airport. They arrived home the same time as the morning paper.

"You open it up and it says, 'Nathan asked to do too much,'" Gardenhire said, referring to the headline over a column criticizing his decision to leave his closer in so long in the 12th inning.

Nathan threw 53 pitches, his longest outing in more than four years, and had made 43 straight appearances since June 17 of one inning or less.

"I really didn't have much choice," Gardenhire said, adding later that Nathan would be available to pitch tonight if the situation dictated it.

Torre defended Gardenhire's decision to leave his closer in, saying "I would have done exactly the same thing he did last night."

Following the departures of Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and David Wells -- who each won games in last year's series -- the Yankees' rotation is its weakest in years. If the series returns Sunday night to the Bronx, Mike Mussina would start Game 5.

"When you go in and you've been with these guys from spring training, you don't think of anybody else instead of these people," Torre said.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.