10/01/2002 10:22 pm ET
Hudson too high in Game 1
A's starter has trouble with location, energy level
By Kent Schacht / MLB.com
OAKLAND, Calif. -- It's not as if Tim Hudson wasn't up for Tuesday's Game 1 start against the Twins. He had made two previous playoff starts, and at age 27, he is the veteran among the A's big three starters.
The problem Tuesday was that he was too up.
Hudson's atypical line of 5 1/3 innings, eight hits and four earned runs was not what he or the A's were expecting, and afterward, he chalked it up to being elevated -- both his location and energy level.
"I just was leaving balls up and they hit them," said Hudson. "They caught me on a day I wasn't very good."
Two balls in particular contributed to Hudson's not-so-good feeling and the bloated line. Corey Koskie pulled the Twins to within two runs in the third with a blast to right, and in the sixth Doug Mientkiewicz's solo shot pulled the Twins to within one.
Koskie's bomb came at a point in the game where it seemed the A's were one big blow from putting the young Twins away. Minnesota had made three errors in the first two innings, and down four, had the look of a team ready to internally combust.
Hudson's mistake with one out and one on changed the mood, and he knew it.
"It was just a fastball right there, at 2-0, he just hit it," said Hudson of Koskie. "It was a big homer for them. We were four runs up, and it cut it to two."
For the next eight outs, Hudson cruised, and seemed to have taken command with a two-run lead.
But Mientkiewicz broke that command. He hit a 1-2 Hudson pitch to left, making it a one-run game. "It was a slider down and in, he actually hit a good pitch," said Hudson.
Beyond making it a one-run game, Mientkiewicz made it decision-time for A's skipper Art Howe, and after allowing Hudson to get righty Michael Cuddyer for the first out of the sixth, Howe decided that his starter, at 77 pitches, had enough for the day.
"I just thought he wasn't as sharp as he could be. A couple of home runs, that's not healthy, and I wanted to get him a win. We had our left-handers ready to come in, and it just didn't work out the way we wanted it to."
Howe's move was unexpected, according to the Twins, but not disappointing.
"I was surprised, first of all, [that] they took him out of the game. I thought he was throwing well, and I hadn't exactly hit the cover off the ball the first two at-bats," said A.J. Pierzynski, who was at the plate when Hudson was lifted.
Mientkiewicz agreed: "Anytime you get one of those guys out of the game before it's the ninth inning with two outs, you feel good."
Hudson, known to be a bulldog on the mound, was clearly displeased, if not surprised himself, when Howe came to yank him.
"Anytime you come out of the game, you're going to show a lot of emotion," he said. "I felt like I still had gas and could get guys out. I don't know. We're going on three days rest and I was over 70 pitches, so maybe they took that into account."
Whether or not he should have remained in the game -- a question the right-hander answered delicately repeatedly after the game -- Hudson wasn't at his best, something that he attributed partially to his energy level.
"I don't think it was mechanics. I think it was more effort level than anything," said Hudson. "Maybe I was overthrowing a little bit."
Nobody in the A's clubhouse was overreacting to the loss, which, most players noted, is the way the Yankees started each of the last two ALDS series against them.
"Obviously we'd have like to have won today, but the last couple of years we won the first game and look what happened to us," said Hudson. "There's a lot of baseball left. ... We're not rolling over."
Kent Schacht is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.