Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Look Back: 2002 ALDS Twins vs. Athletics

With the Championship Series underway in both leagues, let's take a look back at the last time that the Twins made it to the championship round of the playoffs.  The journey there started with an upset in the first round of the playoffs.

Just how big of an upset was the 2002 ALDS between the Minnesota Twins and the Oakland Athletics?

The A's were winners of 103 games.  Their team was stacked with young talent.  They would go on to sweep the two most prestigious awards of the regular season, the AL MVP and ML Cy Young.  Oakland did so well during the early 2000's that a book was written by Michael Lewis.  That book is being made into a movie staring Brad Pitt as the General Manager of the A's, Billy Beane.

The Twins had only won 94 games.  They were recovering from the brink of being contracted less than a year before.  ESPN the Magazine proclaimed them "The Team that Saved Baseball."  They had come back from their deathbed to be a thriving franchise in Major League Baseball.  To this day it is one of my favorite magazine covers that features the Twins.
Game 1:  Featured a late-inning power surge from the Twins.  Both Corey Koskie and Doug Mientkiewicz hit homeruns and the Twins squeaked out a win 7-5.  Brad Radke only lasted five innings and gave up all five Oakland runs.  But Johan Santana, JC Romero, and Eddie Guardado put all zeros on the board and allowed the Twins to get back in the game.

Game 2:  The Twins got smoked 9-1.  Joe Mays only lasted three innings.  But the Twins had done what they needed to in Oakland they had managed to get homefield advantage from the A's.

Game 3:  As fast as the Twins had gained homefield from the A's they had lost it.  The Twins bullpen only added to the lead that Oakland had accumulated.  The A's turned the Metrodome into their own HomerDome.  It looked like the bash brothers of the 1980's with the four homeruns that the A's hit.  They won the game 6-3 on the strength of those homeruns.

Game 4:  The Twins looked strong in this do-or-die game.  They pushed eleven runs across the plate and chased Oakland starter Tim Hudson from the game early.  The A's had gotten the split they needed in the Dome.  The Twins left the Dome with something to prove in Oakland.

Game 5:  One game would decided who would qualify for the ALCS.  Both starters allowed minimual runs for the first seven or so innings.  The inning that became interesting was the 9th.  The Twins had a 3-2 lead entering the top of the ninth inning.  They would go on to add three insurance runs.  The problem was they would need every one of them.  The A's would add three runs of their own off of Guardado before he was able to get the final out.

Series Highlights:

Pitcher of the Series:  Brad Radke was the winning pitcher in two of the three wins.  His ERA was a miniscual 1.54.  He didn't pitch long into each of his starts but he kept his team in the game and allowed them to win.  Something he did for most of his career with the Twins.

Batter of the Series:  There are a few players that had big series for the Twins.  Koskie only had three hits in the series but he had a team leading five RBI.  Mientkiewicz had two homeruns and four RBI but only batted .250 for the series.  The strongest batter for the series, as much as I now hate to say it, was AJ Pierzynski.  His stats for the series included a .438 batting average, four RBI, a homerun, a triple, and an OPS of 1.250.

For a full breakdown of the statistics check out the Twins vs. A's ALDS page on Baseball Reference.com

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