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A's say heat on Howe unfair
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Division Series
10/06/2002 10:26 pm ET 
A's say heat on Howe unfair
Players say skipper's second-guessers are off base
By Mychael Urban /

Mark Mulder reacts after the loss in Game 5 to the Twins. (Ben Margot/AP)
OAKLAND, Calif. -- When Tim Hudson took the mound for Game 4 of the American League Division Series on three days of rest for the first time this year and failed to make it out of the fourth inning, the snickering started.

A's manager Art Howe blew it, some suggested, in going with a three-man rotation. His stellar starting staff worked with four days rest all season and forcing them to go on three smacked of desperation.

Then Mark Mulder took the mound Sunday for Game 5, also on three days rest for the first time this year. Allowed two runs over seven innings. Got better as the game wore on. Said that if anything, he was too strong in the first inning.

Case closed, he said. The A's lost the game, 5-4, and the series, 3-2, but as far as Mulder and several teammates are concerned, Howe made the right call.

"That's ridiculous if Art's taking heat for going with a three-man," Mulder said. "Us working on three days wasn't a factor at all. Us losing this series had nothing to do with a three-man rotation. We just got beat."

We should've known

With Sunday's Game 5 loss to the Twins, the Oakland A's have now lost six straight ALDS clinchers, including four at home, and became the first team in Major League history to lose a deciding Game 5 or Game 7 three years in a row. Mark Mulder, the loser in last year's ALDS Game 5, was the loser again this year. Perhaps we should have seen this coming.
2000 ALDS vs. NY,
series tied 2-2

Game 5 (at Oak): NY 7, A's 5
2001 ALDS vs. NY,
A's up 2-0

Game 3 (at Oak): NY 1, A's 0
Game 4 (at Oak): NY 9, A's 2
Game 5 (at NY): NY 5, A's 3
2002 ALDS vs. Twins,
A's up 2-1

Game 4 (at Minn): Twins 11, A's 2
Game 5 (at Oak.): Twins 5, A's 4
With a win in Game 5 of the ALDS in Oakland on Sunday, the Twins have now won six consecutive games when facing elimination. The previous five all had been played at the Metrodome, so today we learned they could take their show on the road.
1987 World Series vs. Cards,
Twins down 3-2
Game 6 (in Minn.): Twins 11, Cards 5
Game 7 (in Minn.): Twins 4, Cards 2
1991 World Series vs. Braves,
Twins down 3-2

Game 6 (in Minn.): Twins 4, Braves 3 (11)
Game 7 (in Minn.): Twins 1, Braves 0
2002 ALDS vs. A's,
Twins down 2-1

Game 4 (at Minn.): Twins 11, A's 2
Game 5 (at Oak.): Twins 5, A's 4
That they got beat in Games 4 and 5, with Hudson and Mulder taking the L's, gave the critics ammo, but Mulder and fellow lefty Barry Zito said the A's should take the bullets as a team.

"If one of us had told Art we didn't want to go with a three-man, he'd have shut it down," said Zito, who won Game 3 with his regular rest. "I mean, come on. We wanted to do this, and to say that this loss -- especially today -- had anything to do with the three-man is insane.

"Look at what Mark did. On three days rest."

What Mulder did was keep the A's in a game that Twins started Brad Radke just refused to lose. Mulder gave up a run in the second and a run in the third, but after getting out of a serious jam -- one out, runners at second and third -- in the fourth, he struck out the side in the fifth, struck out two more in a scoreless sixth and finished his day with a 1-2-3 seventh.

He threw 113 pitches. On three days of rest.

"Mark was awesome," said rookie second baseman Mark Ellis, whose three-run homer in the ninth inning capped the scoring. "To go out there and do what he did today just shows you how much guts and courage he has."

"He was amazing," added Zito. "Just amazing. That's a big-time performance right there."

Even Cory Lidle, the A's No. 4 starter during the regular season, downplayed the effect of Howe's decision to dance with his Big Three.

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"Huddy said he felt fine [in Game 4]; he said he felt strong," Lidle said. "And I don't think anyone's going to say Mark wasn't strong today. Would I have liked to start one of these games? Sure. But did going with three starters lose this series? No. I don't think so."

Neither does Howe, despite what his critics might say. He didn't even bother answering a question about the rotation, preferring instead to focus on Mulder's rebuttal.

"He pitched a heck of a game," Howe said. "That was true grit."

Mychael Urban is a reporter for and can be reached at This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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