10/12/2002 02:03 am ET
Milton comes through in loss
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Eric Milton entered Game 3 with a 4-0 record and a 1.50 ERA at Edison Field and the Twins figured if the lefty could put up those kind of numbers once again, they had a pretty good shot of regaining home-field advantage.
Milton gave them just what they wanted. He left Friday's game with the exact same numbers in Anaheim that he had coming in after holding the Angels to a single run over six innings. Unfortunately for Milton and the Twins, the end result wasn't in their favor as Angels' southpaw Jarrod Washburn was equally impressive in a 2-1 Anaheim victory.
"[Milton] pitched great today," Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He's pitched great in the playoffs. He matched Washburn pitch-for-pitch. He gave up one run and Washburn game up one run. It was two almost clones against each other."
One pitch Milton wouldn't want cloned, however, was the fastball he served Garret Anderson in the bottom of the second.
After throwing a first-pitch strike to the Angels slugger, Milton came back with a fastball in the heart of the plate that Anderson grooved into the right-field bleachers to give Anaheim the early lead.
"They've got big bats in the lineup," Milton said. "They can hit home runs one through nine. You just have to try to keep the ball down and throw strikes and keep it in the ballpark. That's what I tried to do tonight, but I made one mistake.
"I don't think you can get a bigger mistake. It was right there. A fastball right over the middle of the plate, and Garret doesn't miss those -- especially off me."
It was the seventh home run Anderson has hit against Milton in his career, and he came close to allowing No. 8 the next inning, but Jacque Jones bailed him out with a fine catch in the left field corner to steal a home run.
"I was wondering how [Anderson] hit that pitch that far," Milton said. "Garret's a tough out, but we have a lot of confidence in Jacque out there and I knew he could come up with that ball."
Lucky for Milton, Jones did. And after that Milton buckled down and put the pressure on himself.
"I knew I couldn't give up any more runs with the way their guy was pitching," He said. "I was on the bench watching our guys take swings and I knew it was going to be tough."
Milton was just as tough over his final four innings. Not only did he hold the Angels without a run, he didn't let another runner reach second base until his own personal nemesis tagged him for a meaningless double in the sixth.
While Anderson's double didn't bear fruit, a second-inning single by Shawn Wooten did.
Three batters after Anderson's home run, Milton faced off in an epic battle against the Angels DH. Wooten fouled off seven balls in a 12-pitch at-bat before slapping a single to right.
Milton managed to escape the inning without further damage, but that at-bat likely forced the Twins to go to the bullpen a little earlier than they would have liked.
"Wooten battled me tough," Milton said. "He kept fouling off pitches and made me throw a lot of pitches to him. That was a big reason I came out of the game. I had [almost] 100 pitches after six innings."
Like any pitcher, Milton would have preferred to have stayed on the hill. But his manager had made his decision.
"When the manager comes and tells you, 'That's it,' then that's it," Milton said. "He had his mind made up at 100 pitches and I have no problem turning it over to our bullpen."
No pitcher would. The Twins crew of relievers has been outstanding all season.
But Friday was a different story. They managed to get out of the seventh inning with the game still tied, but it wasn't pretty. Minnesota needed four different pitchers and a play at the plate to get out of the seventh inning before Troy Glaus broke through with the game-winning home run off J.C. Romero in the eighth.
"[The bullpen] has been huge," Milton said. "Tonight it was one pitch -- and [The Angels] came out on top. You can't say anything bad about the way anybody played tonight. It was a hard fought ballgame."
Now Milton, who would start Game 7 if the series goes that far, can only hope his teammates fight that hard the rest of the 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.