10/02/2002 10:13 pm ET
MLBeat: No sweep? No problem
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
OAKLAND, Calif. -- While A's hitters took Twins pitcher Joe Mays out of his game in Wednesday's 9-1 loss in Game 2 of the ALDS, Oakland lefty Mark Mulder was successful at taking Twins hitters out of theirs too. His effectiveness took some of the rah-rah comeback spirit from Game 1 out of Minnesota's dugout.
"We tried to pump each other up, but we knew we had a tough lefty," said Torii Hunter, who went 0-for-3. "He's not going to let you get too many runs off him. He hit his spots and used every pitch, throwing them for strikes. He had his groove on."
Besides Cristian Guzman's homer off Mulder, there were few offensive positives for Minnesota, which managed only seven hits in the game. Dustan Mohr was the only other runner to reach to third base. After hitting a double in the eighth inning off reliever Chad Bradford, Mohr advanced to third on a Guzman groundout. He was left stranded when Matthew LeCroy hit into an inning-ending double play.
"I'm disappointed about today," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "A lot of things didn't go right."
Gardenhire went into the day hoping Minnesota could take a 2-0 advantage on the road, but he now must be content with a split. He maintained a positive outlook about the situation, though.
"We won a game here. People said we couldn't do that," he said. "We're going home 1-1, and we have a great opportunity to go home and play some baseball."
Center fielder Torii Hunter also wanted to win both games, but said the goal all along was to at least achieve the split.
"I'm not going to say we didn't want two -- we wanted two," Hunter said. "A split is the worst-case scenario to happen [after last night's win]. We can still go home on a positive note. There's nothing negative about it."
"Any time you play a short series, you try and get one game on the road, and we did," first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. "The fact that we lost hurts, but the way we lost doesn't. They took us right out of our game right out of the chute. There's no hangover effect."
Dome field advantage: According to some players, the edge of the Wednesday's loss is dulled some, because they know they are playing the next two games at home in the Metrodome.
"We're going home and playing two there in the Dome in front of our 55,000 fans," Hunter said. "You have to shake this off. It's the past, and we're not even thinking of that. Now, we have to go take care of [Barry] Zito."
Mays expects Minnesota to have the advantage at the Dome.
"We've played there all season," Mays said. "We know the balls in the roof. We know how fast the infield and outfield is. We'll see what happens."
Playing at home is certainly nice, but buildings alone don't win baseball games. The players still have to play.
"Believe me, I'll make sure we understand that," Gardenhire said. "We did it here, and we'll do it there."
Games 3 and 4 will be sold out, and the curtain that normally blocks out empty seats in the center-field upper deck will be lifted to accomodate the large crowd.
Gardenhire was the third-base coach in 1991 World Championship season. He says it's been loud inside the Dome this year, but nothing like it should be Friday.
"It's definitely louder. There's definitely more of a roar," Gardenhire said. "There's no simulating what the Metrodome is going to be like. You just have to go and live it, and that's what we're going to get a chance to do."
Players will have to adjust and try not get too caught up in the moment.
"That place will be really humming, but it will be our people," Gardenhire said. "That will be pretty exciting for our baseball team. Hopefully, we'll be able to relax there."
DH Decision: Right-handed designated hitter Matthew LeCroy was the only hitter who came up with two hits off Mulder in Wednesday's game. LeCroy was used in favor of regular DH David Ortiz, who is left-handed.
Gardenhire hasn't determined if LeCroy's success vs. Mulder will earn him a start vs. A's lefty Zito Friday.
"I really haven't really given it much thought yet for Game 3, as far as LeCroy or David," Gardenhire said. "David's got good numbers off Zito, too. LeCroy's got some decent numbers off him, also. I like the way Matty is swinging. He's been attacking pretty good."
Ortiz is 4-for-8 lifetime vs. Zito, while LeCroy is 2-for-4.
Name game: In the seventh inning, Mohr entered the game as a defensive replacement in left field. He was mistakenly announced on the public address system as the new first baseman. While Mohr raised his arms, Mientkiewicz was checking the name and number on his back to make sure he was the right guy.
"I've been called a lot of bad names in my life, [but] that was really humiliating to be called Dustan Mohr," Mientkiewicz joked. "I'm losing my hair. I haven't lost it."
"I guess that goes to show my star power," said Mohr, who was once announced as "Dustin Hoffman" by Metrodome PA announcer Bob Casey.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. This report was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.