Thursday, October 10, 2002

Angels 6, Twins 3

The Associated Press

        MINNEAPOLIS — Raucous Metrodome or tradition-filled Yankee Stadium — it doesn't matter to these Anaheim Angels. Darin Erstad and Brad Fullmer revived the bats with big home runs, Troy Percival and the bullpen got big outs, and the Angels beat the perky, pesky Twins 6-3 Wednesday night to head home with a split in the first two games of the AL championship series.

        “Our job was to come here and win one out of two on the road,” Fullmer said.

        These high-flying Angels, who haven't made the World Series in their previous 41 seasons, had been 1-9 on the road in the postseason before winning Game 2 of the division series at Yankee Stadium last week.

        The Twins had been 13-2 in the dome during postseason play, where their Homer Hanky-waving fans turn up the volume and throw off opponents.

        “You have to get acclimated to the dome,” Fullmer said. “Tonight we got it going a little bit, the way we've done it all year, put together some hits, then get a couple long balls.”

        Now it's goodbye hankies and hello “rally monkey.” The next three games are in Anaheim and when the series resumes Friday, Jarrod Washburn will have the crowd behind him. He faces the Twins' Eric Milton — who no-hit the Angels in September 1999.

        A night after Joe Mays stymied Anaheim's high-octane offense in the Twins' 2-1 opening victory, the Angels got to Rick Reed from the start. Erstad, the No. 2 batter, sent Reed's sixth pitch over the fence in right-center, where it landed 409 feet away — nestled in one of the stacked-up seats used for Vikings and Gophers games.

        “It's nice to get a lead. It's nice to jump out. It gave us a big lift,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

        Anaheim tacked on three more runs in the second, two of them unearned because of a costly error by catcher A.J. Pierzynski — who couldn't hold on to a throw home after Reed caught a runner off first.

        “The game should have been 2-0,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

        When Fullmer chased Reed with a two-run homer in the sixth, it seemed over. But Minnesota battled right back, knocking Ramon Ortiz out in the sixth when Corey Koskie hit an RBI single and Doug Mientkiewicz, who had three hits, had a two-run single.

        Then the Angels bullpen stopped the Twins as cold as the Midwest autumn air outside the done.

        Brendan Donnelly got out of the inning, and 20-year-old rookie Francisco Rodriguez struck out two in a 1-2-3 seventh.

        After a two-out walk to Torii Hunter and a single by Mientkiewicz put runners at the corners in the eighth, Scioscia brought in Troy Percival, whom he had been reluctant to use in the eighth until after New York rallied to win the division series opener.

        “In the playoffs, it doesn't matter. I'll come out in the seventh,” Percival said.

        Percival, who hasn't allowed an unearned run to Minnesota in 35 innings during the regular season, got ahead 1-2 in the count on pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty. With the crowd on its feet, shouting and waving their hankies, Kielty took a called third strike on a changeup.

        “It came back nice over the inside corner,” said Percival, who finished up with a perfect ninth for the save. He struck out three of the four batters he faced.

        Reed, 1-3 in seven career postseason starts, now has two of the Twins' three postseason losses in the dome. He gave up six runs — four earned — and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.

        “I've got a lot of redeeming to do, but it's a seven-game series,” Reed said. “My number might come up again.”

        Anaheim, which had been 1-9 in ALCS road games, quieted the crowd with a quick start.

        A Metrodome baseball record 55,990 filled the ballpark, and they didn't like what they saw early. Erstad, 5-for-12 against Reed in his career, put the Angels ahead in the first with his first postseason homer.

        After failing to get a leadoff hitter on in the first 10 innings of the series, Anaheim's first three batters got hits in the second, with Scott Spiezio's bloop double near the right-field line bouncing over an onrushing Michael Cuddyer to make it 2-0.

        After Reed threw out a runner at the plate on a comebacker, Pierzynski's error cost the Twins, the top-fielding team in the major leagues during the regular season, two more runs.

        Reed caught Adam Kennedy leaning and threw to first for the pickoff. Kennedy broke for second, Spiezio then headed home from third, and Mientkiewicz threw to the plate.

        But Pierzynski couldn't handle the throw as Spiezio made contact with his left arm scored.

        “When I broke for home, I thought I was going to be out by a long way. So I planned on hitting him,” Spiezio said.

        With the offline throw, he tried to go around the catcher and hit Pierzynski's left arm.

        “It was a clean play. I just dropped the ball. No excuse,” Pierzynski said.

        David Eckstein singled on the next pitch for a 4-0 lead.

        Minnesota, which had just 74 errors in 161 games during the season, had six in seven postseason games. Pierzynski, who had three during the season, has two in the playoffs.

        “We made too many mistakes early,” Gardenhire said. “But we had a chance. We had some runners on, had some opportunities.”

        Notes: Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura and former Twins star Tony Oliva sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” in the seventh inning. “This is dedicated to Bud Selig,” Ventura told the crowd before starting the song. ... Minnesota's previous postseason losses in the dome were 5-2 to Toronto in Game 2 of the 1991 ALCS and 6-3 to Oakland in Game 3 of this year's division series. ... Angels RF Tim Salmon, who had a cortisone injection, left in the middle of the third inning because of a tight right hamstring. The Angels think he will be available Friday. ... Johan Santana, J.C. Romero, LaTroy Hawkins and Mike Jackson combined on shutout, two-hit relief for the Twins. ... Ortiz allowed three runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings. Minnesota's leadoff hitters reached in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but one was erased by a pickoff and two by double-play grounders. Anaheim has turned eight already in the postseason.


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