10/08/2002 11:44 pm ET
Cooking up a classic series
Pitching was tough on both sides of the equation
By Kent Schacht / MLB.com
It's not the matchup everyone expected, but if Game 1 is any indication, the 2002 American League Championship Series is shaping up to be a classic.
Tuesday, the Twins cooked up a 2-1 win over the Angels in a game that had all the right ingredients for classic October baseball.
Add it up:
Two parts clutch starting pitching: Joe Mays, shaking off a poor performance in the ALDS, pitched like an ace. He retired 13 straight before coming out after the eighth inning having limited the Halos to four hits and one unearned run. Meanwhile, Anaheim's gutty Kevin Appier repeatedly got himself out of jams limiting the Twins to two runs in his career-best playoff outing before handing it over to his bullpen.
Two healthy doses of brilliance from the bullpens: Eddie Guardado took over for Mays in the ninth, shaking off a scary outing in Game 5 of the ALDS to save it with a scoreless ninth. Meanwhile, Anaheim's Brendan Donnelly, Scott Schoeneweis and Ben Weber blanked the Twins for three innings in relief of Appier, keeping the game within one swing.
Don't' forget a dash of clutch hitting: Corey Koskie's one out RBI-double put the Twins ahead to stay in the fifth.
And for flavor: Every last breath from 55,000-plus screaming Minnesotans.
Tuesday night's battle featured two teams with little playoff experience before their inspiring upsets last week, but played with the intensity and execution you'd expect from the Yankees and Braves.
The Twins' win serves notice to the Angels, just as it did to the A's in last week's ALDS, that these underdogs aren't just happy to be there.
Despite the loss, the Angels also served notice they would not be intimidated by the Metrodome. Absent from Tuesday's proceedings were balls lost in the roof, funny bounces and the dome demons that have acted like a 10th player for the Twins in the past. Save an Appier wild pitch, Anaheim played flawless defense.
America, you've been given a taste of the two best teams in the American League. Expect to savor this matchup for the next nine days.
Kent Schacht is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.