Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

Misplay dooms Twins

Athletics take 2-0 series edge

October 5, 2006

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— Playing it safe? Not Torii Hunter's style. That's why he has five Gold Gloves.

Trying to make a tough catch right after his Minnesota teammates tied the game with back-to-back home runs, Hunter missed - and Oakland took advantage.

Mark Kotsay circled the bases for a two-run, inside-the-park homer after Hunter's ill-advised dive for a sinking line drive, lifting the Athletics over the Twins, 5-2, on Wednesday for a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

"It was the worst feeling in the world. You can't do anything about it," said Hunter, who blamed himself for the defeat.

The A's handled the Boof - Bonser, that is - and here's the truth: Oakland has arrived at yet another elimination game. The perennial playoff underperformers are 0-9 in those since 2000, losing four straight first-round series.

"This team knows what to do," said Eric Chavez, a regular on all four of those clubs. "We're hard-nosed baseball players that like to play the game. I don't think anybody here, regardless if they've been in this position, is going to take Game 3 lightly."

The series shifts west Friday, with Twins right-hander Brad Radke taking his broken shoulder socket to the mound for possibly the final appearance of his 12-year career.

Oakland's Mark kotsay (21) accepts congratulations on his two-run inside-the-park home run. The Athletics defeated the Minnesota Twins, 5-2, on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Oakland's Mark kotsay (21) accepts congratulations on his two-run inside-the-park home run. The Athletics defeated the Minnesota Twins, 5-2, on Wednesday in Minneapolis.

Dan Haren, in his first postseason start, will pitch for Oakland - which beat Cy Young Award favorite Johan Santana in Game 1 and now gets two chances to close it out at home.

"We've won two games. OK. Congratulations. Good job. But it's not over yet," said Nick Swisher, who doubled against Juan Rincon and scored on Joe Nathan's wild pitch in the ninth.

The A's had one mishap in the ninth, however.

Second baseman Mark Ellis broke his right index finger swinging at a high, inside pitch, and Oakland said it would update his condition at today's workout.

For the Twins, it's certainly not over, considering they came from 121â2 games back to win the AL Central. Plus, there's the recent history of these A's, even though Chavez and Barry Zito are the only players remaining from 2000 and just a handful are left from 2003.

"We've been backed up before," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Oakland starter Esteban Loaiza slipped in the sixth inning, surrendering consecutive solo homers to Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau that evened the game at 2.

But with Jason Kendall on first, two outs in the seventh and reliever Dennys Reyes pitching, Kotsay hit what should have been a single. Hunter, bothered by a sore left foot this season, charged forward.

The ball sliced to Hunter's left, and his reach wasn't long enough to get near it.

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