10/04/06 7:11 PM ET
Game 2 loss puts Twins on brink
Hunter misses big play; Bonser solid through six
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
It wasn't like the Twins didn't have chances. Three times in the first five innings, the Twins recorded back-to-back hits to put runners on first and second. But all of those hits came with two outs."We wanted to get good pitches and be able to drive them," right-fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "Unfortunately, we weren't able to do that with less than two outs." Only once in the game were the Twins able to get hits with fewer than two outs, and that came in the sixth. Cuddyer and Justin Morneau blasted back-to-back home runs off Loaiza to lead off the inning. Cuddyer took a full-count pitch deep to left field and Morneau followed with a 426-foot shot to right on a 1-2 pitch. It was only the second time in club history that two players have belted consecutive home runs in the postseason, the last coming on Oct. 4, 1970. The consecutive long balls knotted the game at 2, and the Twins felt that momentum had swung their way. "For pretty much the whole year, it's been us coming from behind with a late-inning rally, so when we had some runs we thought, 'OK, here we go again,'" shortstop Jason Bartlett said. "We felt that now it was going to be a battle to win this game."
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That battle quickly turned in the other direction in the seventh. Rookie reliever Pat Neshek came in and recorded one quick out before giving up a single to Mark Ellis. A missed double play kept the inning going with a runner still on first, and that's when trouble really hit.With two outs in the inning, Mark Kotsay came to the plate and delivered a line shot to center field that skipped just past the glove of a diving Torii Hunter. The ball carried all the way to the wall, and by the time that Cuddyer was able to get to the ball, Kotsay had hit a rare inside-the park home run and Oakland had a 4-2 lead. Diving to make such a catch on a tough play was the turning point in the game but afterward, no one was pointing fingers at the five-time Gold Glove winner for the loss. "He's going all out," catcher Joe Mauer said. "He's made those plays before. He took a chance and it didn't work. Sometimes it happens." Coming back from a 2-0 hole may seem like a daunting task, but the Twins have one thing on their side -- history. Twice in the past five years, the A's have blown 2-0 leads in a Division Series, once in 2001 and again in 2003. "There's hope," Hunter said. "I really hadn't thought about that. Any time you go up 2-0, it's not over yet. We've had a three-game winning streak before, so we just hope we can get that three-game winning streak and win this thing."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.