10/10/2002 02:03 am ET
Reed hopes to get the ball again
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Rick Reed spent the second half of the season carrying the Twins starting staff, but after getting pounded in by the Angels in Game 2 of the ALCS at the Metrodome, the only thing he'll be lugging with him to Anaheim are two playoff losses and a pretty hefty postseason ERA.
Reed was ripped for six runs -- four earned -- and eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, as the Angels dealt the Twins a 6-3 loss to even the series at one game apiece.
It's tough to pin the loss entirely on Reed, though, because a defensive meltdown led to two of the Angels' three second-inning runs. Michael Cuddyer got a late jump to turn a pop fly into a double, which led to the first run. Then A.J. Pierzynski was charged with an error after Scott Spezio kicked the ball out of his glove on a play at the plate.
"[The ball] just popped out," Pierzynski said. "And it ended up being a big play, because it wound up costing us a couple of runs."
Without a doubt, those defensive gaffes cost Reed, but he hurt himself even more by giving up some pretty expensive gopher balls for the second start in a row.
"It's like they say, this is a game of inches," Reed said. "And today, it was a game of a whole lot of inches."
Reed kicked off his Game 3 start in the Division Series by allowing back-to-back home runs in the first inning before eventually tying an ALDS record with four longballs allowed. Game 2 of the ALCS was only half as bad.
After getting leadoff hitter David Eckstein to ground out, Reed put the Twins in a one-run hole by giving up a 409-foot home run to Darrin Erstad in the first inning and was chased from the game when Brad Fullmer tagged him for a two-run tater in the sixth.
The fact that Erstad and Fullmer did the majority of the damage wasn't exactly a shock. The two entered the game hitting a combined .389 (14-for-36) against the veteran right-hander.
"I don't know if it's a mental thing or not," said pitching coach Rick Anderson. "He knows it. It's like Eddie [Guardado] pitching in Oakland. You just can't explain it. A couple of those guys, no matter what he throws out there, they hit it."
"I've faced Brad a lot when he was with Montreal," Reed said. "So he pretty much knows how I approach the game. Erstad is just one of those guys in the league that I have trouble with. It's a tough lineup, and no one said this was going to be easy. Just because they lost the first game didn't mean they were going to roll over."
And Reed won't, either.
"I've got a lot of redeeming to do," he said. "I'm not too happy with my outing, but it's a seven-game series, and we've got a long way to go. My turn may come up again, and I might go out there and throw a gem."
In order to get that turn, Reed needs the Twins to take at least one game at Edison Field. But, when and if that happens, Reed knows he'll have to keep the ball down in the zone to avoid his recent problems.
Most pitchers find themselves in trouble because they don't throw strikes. For Reed, that's never been a concern. He leads all active pitchers with just 1.63 walks allowed per nine innings over his career. He was even better this season, allowing 1.2 free passes per nine.
Reed's first-strike style is usually his biggest asset, but against an aggressive Anaheim lineup, it might not be such an advantage.
"They hit the ball," Reed said. "They come out swinging -- early."
And while that style might not have worked on this particular night, it's what has got him to this point, and he won't be changing his approach anytime soon.
"It's no secret that I'm around the plate," Reed said. "I think everybody in both leagues knows that. It's just the way I pitch. I just can't afford to get the ball up in the zone. When I do that, it hurts me, and it hurts the team. I think when I keep the ball down, I'm fine. I've thrown a lot of good games keeping the ball down."
Both he and the Twins are hoping he'll get a chance to throw another one before next spring.
Todd Lorenz is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.