10/13/2002 11:51 pm ET
A bitter end for Twins' bullpen
By Todd Lorenz / MLB.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- It's tough to blame the Twins bullpen for their failure to reach the World Series.
Not because they were effective. They weren't -- and it was obvious. It's just tough to blame them for anything because throughout the season they overcame adversity in a way not seen since Morris Buttermaker led the
Bad News Bears to their Little League championship game way back in 1976.
Unfortunately for the Minnesota faithful, the Twins -- like Buttermaker's Bears -- fell short in the end.
The major difference was that the Bears lost a one-game series by a single run on a questionable call at the plate, while the Twins relievers were racked for 10 runs in the seventh inning as the Angels took the best-of-seven series four games to one with a 13-5 victory in Game 5 at Edison Field.
And like that Bears squad, the Twins relievers weren't hanging their heads following their loss because they'd surpassed even their own expectations.
Into the Red ...
The Twins bullpen allowed the Angels to set and tie a slew of postseason records with their 10-run seventh inning.
| Runs scored in an inning (10):|
Set LCS record. Previous best was nine set in Game 4 of the 1985 NLCS between St. Louis and Los Angeles (2nd inning)
Tied postseason mark set in Game 4 of 1929 World Series between Philadelphia A's and Chicago Cubs (7th inning) and Game 6 of 1968 World Series between Detroit and St. Louis (3rd inning)
| Hits in an inning (10):|
Set LCS record
Ties postseason record set in Game 4 of the 1929 World Series (7th inning)
| Consecutive hits in an inning (6):|
Sets LCS record
Ties postseason record set in Game 4 of the 1999 ALDS between Boston and Cleveland (2nd inning) and Game 1 of the 1908 World Series between Chicago Cubs and Detroit (9th inning)
| Singles in an inning (9):|
Sets postseason record. Previous best was eight, set in Game 4 of 1985 NLCS (2nd inning)
| Plate appearances in an inning (15):|
Sets ALCS record. Previous best was 14, set in Game 4 of 1985 NLCS (2nd inning)
| At-bats in an inning (13):|
Ties postseason record set in Game 4 of the 1929 World Series
| Players with two hits in an inning (2):|
Angels set postseason record when both Adam Kennedy and Scott Spiezio got two hits in the seventh inning
Kennedy and Spiezio individually tied the ALCS mark of two hits in one inning set by Craig Nettles in Game 2 of 1981 ALCS between New York Yankees and Oakland (4th inning) and Rickey Henderson in Game 1 of the 1990 ALCS between Oakland and Boston (9th inning)
"We just didn't execute," Twins closer Eddie Guardado said. "We just didn't get our jobs
done -- plain and simple. We all know it. But still, we've got nothing to hang our heads about. The better team won. Give credit to Anaheim. They played damn good ball. We just couldn't stop the bleeding.
"We've been playing so well. We've been pitching so well. Things like that
happen, they just happened at the wrong time."
There was a time when most baseball experts thought that would be the way the Twins bullpen was going to be treated for most of the season.
Almost every publication, analyst, reporter, talking head, guru and fan thought the Twins relief corps would be the team's biggest weakness when the season started. So the entire group of bullpenners got together after Spring Training and decided they were going to prove everyone wrong.
And they did.
As a group, the Twins relievers posted a 30-17 record, 47 saves, 83 holds, 413 strikeouts and a 3.68 ERA.
"We did a great job this season," said Johan Santana, who took the loss in Game 5 after opening the floodgates in the seventh inning by surrendering a three-run homer to Adam Kennedy, the most popular man in Anaheim since Mickey Mouse.
"It's been unbelievable -- besides (the Angels), we went farther than anyone
else in the American League."
And although that's an undeniable fact, one still has to wonder about the meltdown. Seriously, how can a team with such a strong bullpen over such a long season go so bad, so fast? Minnesota's bullpen gave up 10 runs Sunday and allowed 16 in its last seven innings of work in the ALCS. Overall in the series, the Twins' bullpen allowed 19 hits, 16 runs and eight walks in 12 2/3 innings for an 11.37 ERA.
"I think that the situations didn't let us use our bullpen the way we did throughout the season," setup man J.C. Romero said. "Throughout the season, the bullpen was very organized and everybody knew their
roles. It seems like with the way they were swinging the bats, we just couldn't use the bullpen the way we wanted."
Case in point: It took the Twins four pitchers to throw a scoreless seventh inning in Game 3 before Troy Glaus hit a game-winning home run off Romero in the eighth. In Game 4, they needed five pitchers to get through a five-run eighth.
"The first two games here, we were trying to survive an inning to try to give us a chance to win," Pitching coach Rick Anderson said. "And we had to throw them all out there. They just tired out."
It showed in the seventh inning Sunday, when it took four pitchers to get through the 10-run, 10-hit fiasco.
"I don't know how I could have (used them differently)," Gardenhire said. "That snowball was rolling and you're just trying to stop it. All we were trying to do was stop that inning. It just didn't work out."
But for most of the season it did, and the Twins skipper couldn't be prouder of his guys.
"We did some good things this year," Gardenhire said. "We did some things that people said we couldn't
do. Those guys did some great things and you have to be proud of them. They
never quit believing in themselves."
That's probably the same way old Buttermaker felt, the Twins are just hoping that their sequels turn out better.
Todd Lorenz is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.