10/06/2002 8:32 pm ET
Twins hitters got job done
Starting pitching was strong, closers left door open
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Both teams got what they were looking for from their starting pitchers, but after a 5-4 victory over the A's Sunday afternoon, the Twins will be heading to the ALCS because they got just a little bit more magic out of their bats.
The Twins offense didn't exactly beat up on A's starter Mark Mulder. The southpaw held Minnesota to two runs through seven innings, but it was obvious early in the game that starting on three days rest had cost him some of the sharpness he displayed in Oakland's Game 2 victory.
Mulder gave up eight hits in the first four innings, all by right-handed hitters, before settling in over the final three.
But his opponent Brad Radke was just as sharp as he was when he ended Oakland's 20-game winning streak earlier this season. Working on his normal four days rest, Radke continually pounded the strike zone. He went to a three-ball count just once in 6 2/3 innings and the only time an A's hitter got past first base was in the third, when Ray Durham hit a solo home run.
The Twins went into the ninth still clinging to a 2-1 lead and with the American League's two best closers prepped and ready, it appeared that's how the game would end.
The Twins appeared to have broken the A's back when they banged out three runs off closer Billy Koch thanks to A.J. Pierzynski's two-run blast and David Ortiz's RBI double.
Oakland was obviously discouraged heading into their final at-bat, but they never packed it in. Mark Ellis' three-run shot cut the lead to one run and Randy Velarde's bloop single brought Durham to the plate as the game-winning run.
But for the third season in a row, Oakland fell short in the Division Series as Durham fouled out to send the Twins back to Minnesota for Game 1 of the ALCS against Anaheim Angels.
Todd Lorenz is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.