10/01/2002 11:22 pm ET
Mulder up for Game 2 challenge
Lefty has pitched well against Twins all year
By Kent Schacht / MLB.com
OAKLAND, Calif. -- After Game 1's heartbreaking 7-5 loss to Minnesota, Wednesday's Game 2 now feels like a must-win for the A's. But lefty Mark Mulder said he won't take the hill with any different mindset than he would have if the A's won Game 1, 20-0.
"Every game in the playoffs is a must-win game," said Mulder. "Even if you're up 2-0, you can't look at it as 'ah, we can afford to lose this.' We have to get after every game."
The last thing, Mulder said, he and the A's can do is go out Wednesday and try to win two games.
"You can't do it," he said. "You've got to approach this as one game and be ready to play. We'll be ready tomorrow, we'll be OK."
Wednesday's start will be Mulder's third of his career in the postseason. He started and won Game 1 of last year's ALDS, scattering seven hits over 6 2/3 innings, while striking out five at Yankee Stadium. He again took the hill for Game 5, which he and the A's lost.
Mulder, who has a 4-2 record with a. 2.16 ERA career record against Minnesota in eight career starts, has been as effective against the Twins in his three starts in 2002. He compiled a 1-1 record, with a familiar 2.16 ERA. That's something he's looking to repeat Wednesday.
"I have generally pitched well against these guys but I've also had good stuff against them on those days," said Mulder. "There are days when you don't have your good stuff, but I think most of my starts I have had it."
In fact, the lefty's stuff has been so good against the Twins this season, it's surprising he's not 3-0 against Minnesota.
Mulder's one loss came in a complete-game, in which he struck out 12 Minnesota batters. In his no-decision -- the memorable game in which the A's extended their record win streak after coming from behind to win in the bottom of the ninth on a Miguel Tejada walkoff homer -- Mulder was cruising along having allowed two runs and three hits over eight innings. That was, until the Twins took the lead with back-to-back homers in the top of the ninth.
"I am still kicking myself for the two homers I gave up in the ninth inning," said Mulder.
In his next start, Sept. 7 in Minneapolis, Mulder was on again, throwing eight shutout innings and striking out 10.
Mulder's not alone in being a left-hander with success against the Twins; the club went just 23-29 against southpaw starters in 2002, and their team batting average was 20 points below average against lefties overall.
But Mulder said you can throw all those numbers out.
"This is the playoffs, you can take the record -- whatever the record is against lefties -- and throw it out. Everybody comes, steps it up a little bit in the playoffs, and we have to do the same thing as pitchers, and that record, I think, is a little bit blown out of proportion.
"They may not have done well, but I have seen many -- I mean watching the tapes of the hitters, they hit lefties. They might not have won a lot of those games, but there are some good hitters and they are going to be ready tomorrow."
If he's successful Wednesday, and the series goes five games, Mulder would be slated to pitch in Game 5, something he'd relish at after last year's loss in New York.
"I would welcome it. I had the challenge last year against the Yankees, Game 5, and we came up short there, so I would love to get another chance at that."
Kent Schacht is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.