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10/04/06 3:55 PM ET

Twins Short Hops: Game 2

Minnesota faces elimination after ball bounces Oakland's way

MINNEAPOLIS -- Fielding the Twins' Game 2 loss to the A's on a short hop ...

In < 40 words ...
Boof Bonser delivered solid starting pitching. Both Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau came through with game-altering home runs. But the defense and relief, playing such a huge role in the Twins' 2006 success, once again eluded Minnesota.

Frozen moment
With one out in the top of the seventh and Mark Ellis on first base, Jason Kendall hit a possible inning-ending double-play grounder to shortstop Jason Bartlett. But the still somewhat fleet-footed Kendall beat the throw to first, bringing Mark Kotsay to the plate. Kotsay followed with a line drive to center, missed by a few inches on an all-out dive by Torii Hunter, which rolled to the wall for the game-winning, inside-the-park home run.

Big number
14. The amount of hitless at-bats for the Twins with runners in scoring position over the first two games. They missed on chances Wednesday with runners on first and second in the first, fourth and fifth and with a runner on second in the sixth. Even Joe Mauer, hitting .408 with runners in scoring position and two outs, grounded out to third baseman Eric Chavez to end the fifth. And Nick Punto popped out to end the game with men on first and second.

Game balls (out of five)
Bonser -- 5 Two runs allowed over six innings certainly fell on the high end of the expectation scale for the talented rookie.

Cuddyer -- 5 Extended his postseason hitting streak to seven games and gave the Twins life with a leadoff home run off Esteban Loaiza in the sixth.

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Luis Castillo -- 1 The talented leadoff hitter struck out 58 times in 584 at-bats during the regular season. He took three called third strikes during Wednesday's loss -- not what Minnesota needs from its leadoff sparkplug.

Sense of October
The crowd of 55,710, the sixth-largest in Metrodome history, managed to Boof it up whenever their starter came close to a strikeout in key game situations. But full appreciation for the decibel level in the stadium came in the sixth, on back-to-back home runs from Cuddyer and Morneau.

Lines of the Game
Justin Morneau
4 AB, 1 R, 2 H, 1 HR, 1 RBI
Comment: Morneau's first career postseason home run tied the game at two in the sixth inning. Even his first out was hard hit, as Morneau lined a shot to right fielder Milton Bradley to end the first with two runners on base.

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Boof Bonser
6 IP, 2 R, 7 H, 1 BB, 3 Ks, 87 pitches, 54 strikes
Comment: Hunter used a euphemism for angry to describe Bonser's competitive spirit following Tuesday's loss. But nobody on the Twins' side was upset with the way the rookie threw the ball Wednesday, allowing eight baserunners over six innings, but minimizing Oakland's damage.

"Really? That's a good one. There's hope. I really hadn't thought about that. For any team, you go up 2-0 and you know it's not over yet. I've had a three-game winning streak before, so we just hope we can get that three-game winning streak and win this thing."
-- Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter, on learning Oakland has given up 2-0 leads in both the 2001 ALDS against the Yankees and the 2003 ALDS against Boston. The A's dropped Games 3 and 4 in Oakland against New York.

Next step
Saying the Twins' collective backs are up against the wall stands as a bit of an understatement. Minnesota arrives in Oakland one game away from elimination with Brad Radke, Friday's starter, making a valiant trip to the mound after pitching three months with a stress fracture in his right shoulder. Radke finished with a no-decision upon his return to the mound last Thursday, but the Twins beat the Royals.

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.