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Twins offense misses opportunities
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Division Series
10/04/2002 11:04 PM ET
Twins offense misses opportunities
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MINNEAPOLIS -- After watching the Twins get shut down by Oakland's Mark Mulder in Game 2 of the Divisional Series, not many thought Minnesota had much of chance against fellow left-hander and Cy Young frontrunner Barry Zito in Game 3.

In fact they had plenty of chances, but never broke through against the 23-game winner and ended the day with a 6-3 loss that leaves them one loss away from playoff elimination.

"We had an opportunity [to win]," said first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. "But we were going up against a Cy Young winner, too. We had him on the ropes two or three innings in a row, and we couldn't get that one hit to knock him out of the game."

    Doug Mientkiewicz   /   1B
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Bats/Throws: L/R

More info:
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Stats
Splits
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Twins site

But that's what makes Zito so tough. Every time the Twins had a chance to get back in the game, or even take the lead, the southpaw wriggled out of it.

Trailing by two runs in the second inning, Minnesota loaded the bases on an error and two walks before Luis Rivas struck out swinging to end the threat. In the third, Cristian Guzman reached second with one out on a walk and a steal. Zito escaped with strikeout and a groundout.

The Twins finally got on the board with a run in the fourth and had runners at the corners with one out, but Rivas grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Back to WorldSeries.com "We were one hit away from knocking him out [of the game] in the third or fourth inning," Mientkiewicz said. "We kept doing what we do. We got guys on base and we had great at-bats, I thought."

The never-say-die Twins tied the game with two runs off Zito in the fifth before Jermaine Dye's homer in the sixth put them back behind the eight ball. After regaining the lead, Zito had the Twins chasing pitches. He fanned Michael Cuddyer and A.J. Pierzynski before catching a Rivas pop fly for his final out.

"He made us chase out of the zone today in big situations," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "When he gets in tough situations he makes you chase. I know we were a little excited, but we chased out of the zone on him a lot."

    Jacque Jones   /   LF
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 200
Bats/Throws: L/L

More info:
Player page
Stats
Splits
Hit chart
Twins site

The Twins were hoping to have better luck against the Oakland bullpen once Zito left the game after the sixth, and it looked like they just might when Jacque Jones led off with a single against Ricardo Rincon.

Unfortunately for the Minnesota faithful, Jones would never get any further because Guzman and Corey Koskie struck out before pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty grounded out to end the inning.

Even in the ninth inning, Minnesota kept the heat on. Jones belted a one-out double off A's closer Billy Koch and it looked like the tying run would come to the plate when the speedy Guzman slapped a bouncer up the middle, but A's shortstop and MVP candidate Miguel Tejada made a remarkable play to get Guzman.

"There's not many shortstops that can throw out Cristian Guzman running down the line," Mientkiewicz said. "It was a half step from getting pretty interesting."

    Torii Hunter   /   CF
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 205
Bats/Throws: R/R

More info:
Player page
Stats
Hit chart
Twins site

But it never did, and now the Twins must win tomorrow against right-hander Tim Hudson to force a pivotal Game 5.

"Now we got to think about Hudson," Torii Hunter said. "He's no slouch, but we beat him once so he can be beat."

To make matters worse, Hudson enters Saturday's game with an 11-1 record in domed stadiums.

"I'd rather it be an A-ball guy," Mientkiewicz said. "But it's not going to be that way."

Todd Lorenz is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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