10/13/2002 01:21 am ET
Radke pitches his heart out
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- After almost single-handedly carrying the Twins through the Division Series, it appeared that
Minnesota ace Brad Radke would again bear the load in Game 4 of the ALCS.
But after six stellar innings, the Twins'
ace ran into trouble. Anaheim didn't bring him down with the big home run punches they used to win Games 2 and 3. Instead they used a series of annoying jabs to get their knockout.
Radke had allowed just two base runners through six innings, but once Darin Erstad flared a leadoff single to right field, the Twins came unglued and now find themselves on the brink of elimination after a 7-1 loss at Edison Field.
"I felt pretty good," Radke said. "I did what I wanted to do. I kept the ball down and hit my spots. I kept them off balance. I did all I could do."
With the game still scoreless and Erstad on first, Troy Glaus took Radke to a 3-1 count. Erstad broke for second on the next pitch. Radke threw a strike, but catcher A.J. Pierzynski didn't.
As Pierzynski's throw rolled into center field, Erstad rolled into third and the rally was under way.
"It was a turning point," Radke said. "There's a guy on third base with no
outs. It's tough to get out of that situation."
Radke came within one ground ball of doing it.
He walked Salmon on the next pitch, but got Garret Anderson on an infield fly to set up a possible inning-ending double play.
However, that didn't happen. Radke fell behind in the count and Glaus drilled a 91 mph fastball into left field to end the shutout bid and put the Angels in front for good.
"I felt fine," Radke said. "I was making the pitches I had to make. I just ran into some bad luck. Erstad got a bloop. Salmon had a great at-bat. I threw some good pitches to him that he laid off of. I threw a good pitch to Glaus, but he's a good hitter. I made the pitch I wanted to make and he got a hit."
Two batters later, Scott Spiezio flared an RBI double just inside the right-field line. Then Radke plunked Bengie Molina and headed for the dugout where he got to watch the Angels crank out five eighth-inning runs against the vaunted Twins bullpen.
"I thought Brad Radke was outstanding," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He did everything he was supposed to do for this baseball team. We just let it get away there at the last -- but Brad pitched unbelievable.
I mean their hits were bloops. They got one solid hit, Glaus hit a solid
"There have been plenty of times when we've struggled and the offense has picked us up. It's no big deal. This team is not gonna
quit. We'll come out tomorrow and we'll bust our butts."
-- Brad Radke
True, but the bottom line is that Anaheim's one solid hit turned out to be enough because the Twins offense was completely stifled by 23-year-old right-hander John Lackey.
"I feel very bad for Brad Radke," first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. "He gets six innings of two-hit baseball against that offense. We had an opportunity, but Lackey did a hell of a job."
Lackey isn't the only Angels hurlers giving the Twins fits though. Minnesota has totaled just seven runs in four games, thus far.
"It's tough," Radke said when asked about pitching with so little run support. "But it's not like the guys aren't trying. We're just struggling a little bit on offense."
Struggling is a bit of an understatement. As a team the Twins are hitting a paltry .217 with a whopping .271 slugging percentage in the ALCS.
"That's just the way it happens sometimes," Radke said. "There have been plenty of times when we've struggled and the offense has picked us up. It's no big deal. This team is not gonna quit. We'll come out tomorrow and we'll bust our butts."
Even though Saturday's loss is likely to Radke's only ALCS action, he's willing to do whatever it takes to help the team send the series back to Minnesota.
"I'll do whatever the manager asks," he said when quizzed about the possibility of pitching in relief later in the series. "It doesn't matter. I'll start that game, I'll pitch in relief, I'll hit, I'll
Then he paused and smiled.
"I don't know about [hitting]," he said.
With the way things went in Game 4, it might be worth a shot.
Todd Lorenz is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.