The Franchise 2003 (Part 1)

September 17, 2014

Manager: Ron Gardenhire 2nd season (2nd with Minnesota 184-139)
90 W 72 L 801 RS 758 RA 1st AL Central 4.0 GA (Chicago 86-76)
4.94 RPG (AL = 4.86) 4.41 ERA (AL = 4.52)
.698 DER (7th AL)

All Stars (1) Eddie Guardado

Franchise (1901-2003) 7600-8299-111; 32-38 Post Season; 19-21 WS
Washington (1901-1960) 4214-4864-104; 8-11 WS
Minnesota (1961-2003) 3386-3435-7; 24-27 Post Season; 11-10 WS

At the 2003 All Star break, the Twins had lost eight games in a row and had a 44-49 record. The defending division champs were in third place, 7.5 game out of first. It wasn’t looking good.

The day after the break, the Twins traded Bobby Kielty to Toronto for Shannon Stewart.

Stewart was 29 years old and had played his entire career in Toronto. He had been an above average offensive player with suspect range in the outfield. the first half of 2003 was shaping up to be a good season, but by Stewart’s standards the numbers were a little down. A change of scenery did him and the Twins well.

The team swept a four game series against the A’s right out of the break. They went 18-11 in August, an surged to a 19-7 record in September, finally taking over the division lead for good on September 15.

Shannon Stewart earned a fourth-place finish for MVP honors based almost entirely on his role with the Twins down the stretch.


2002 ALCS Game 5

August 26, 2014

October 13, 2002

Where the hell’s everybody at? Must be watching the celebration. Couldn’t stop them today. Just got down to that. They’re on a roll. We threw everything we had at them. We took a lead and feel pretty good about it. Those guys are, they just keep playing.

And they keep swinging, and goodness gracious, I don’t know I’ve ever seen an inning like that. We couldn’t get anybody out. They were hitting balls through holes, over, bullets. You tip your hat to those guys. They were playing the game. They were really getting after it.

We played pretty hard and we did it all year long like that. But they’re playing the game over there. That’s a great baseball team. I tip my hat to Mike (Scioscia) and his staff. Great job.

-Ron Gardenhire

The Angels used a 10-run seventh inning to win their fourth straight game over the Twins and advanced to the World Series after a 13-5 win at Edison Field.

The Angels’ big inning came just after the Twins had taken a 5-3 lead with three runs in the top half of the inning. Mienkiewicz, Mohr, and Pierzynski hit consecutive one-out singles and all three eventually scored.

The Angels responded with a monster inning in which the Twins were not able to record their first out until the eighth batter of the inning. All told, the home team had nine singles, a home run, a walk, a hit batter, and a wild pitch in the seventh inning. The Twins used four pitchers in the inning.

Top WPA

1. Adam Kennedy 0.63
2. Scott Spezio 0.21
3. AJ Pierzynski 0.18

A couple of future stars provided the worst WPA of the game

1. Johan Santana -0.47
2. Francisco Rodoriguez -0.27

Box

 


2002 ALCS Game 4

August 24, 2014

October 12, 2002

For the second straight game, the Twins were held to just a single run. This time, the run was too little too late in a 7-1 loss that put the team on the brink of elimination.

By the time David Ortiz his his ninth inning RBI single, the Twins were already down by seven runs. Despite the final score, however, the bulk of the game was very tight.

Brad Radke held the Angels in check for six innings, allowing just a pair of hits. His counterpart, John Lackey, matched him inning-for-inning, holding the Twins to just three hits in seven innings.

It all came unraveled for Radke and the Twins in the seventh inning, however.

Anaheim’s Darin Erstad began the seventh inning with a single then stole second base and advanced to third on catcher A.J. Pierzynski’s throwing error. Troy Glaus, who provided the game-winning homer Friday, hit an RBI single to left field to score Erstad and break the deadlock.

Radke allowed one more run in the inning on a Scott Spiezio RBI double.

Radke left the game but the Minnesota bullpen, which had been such a strength for the team during the season, had one of its worst days, allowing five more runs over the course of an inning and a third.

Top WPA
1. John Lackey 0.48
2. Francisco Rodriguez 0.08
3. Brad Radke 0.07

Worst WPA
1. AJ Pierzynski -0.13
2. Garrett Anderson -0.11

In the face of their daunting task, Mientkiewicz said the Twins have nothing to lose.

“If we walk away from here tomorrow and lose, let’s make sure we do it the right way,” he said. “Let’s make sure we let it all hang out. I don’t think we’ve done that the last couple of games.”

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire expects a big response from his players, especially after they let Saturday’s game get away at the end.

“I think they’re going to come out madder than hell tomorrow,” Gardenhire said. “I can promise you this — the Minnesota Twins will show up tomorrow. We’re going to try and get this thing back to the Metrodome and go from there.”

Box

 


2002 ALCS Game 3

August 21, 2014

October 11, 2002

“Trust me, the last thing I expected was to give up a home run in that inning,” – JC Romero

Reliever JC Romero came on in a tie game in the seventh inning to help stop an Angels rally. With the score 1-1 and a player already tagged out at home plate, the Angels still had the bases loaded with two out. Romero was called upon to face Garret Anderson, who had homered off Eric Milton earlier to account for the team’s only run. Romero did his job, retiring Anderson with a fly ball to right field that ended the threat.

Romero came back out for the eighth, however, and allowed a home run to Troy Glaus to lead off the inning.

“[With] a 3-1 count, he was hacking,” Romero said. “He got good wood on it, and the ball went out. It barely went out, but it’s a home run, anyway.

“Every time you’re behind in the count facing these guys, you’ve got to execute your pitches. I got behind in the count, and it cost me today.”

There was some discussion about whether Ron Gardenhire should have let his lefty pitch against the right-handed Glaus, but the team had already used two of its best right-handed set up men, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Jackson, as part of the effort to keep the Angels scoreless in the seventh inning.

Jerrod Washburn held the Twins’ offense to just a single run in seven innings pitched, and the Angels’ bullpen combination of Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival pitched perfectly in the eighth and ninth innings respectively to seal the 2-1 win for the home team.

Top WPA
1. Troy Glaus 0.29
2. Jerrod Washburn 0.29
3. Eric Milton 0.19

Bottom WPA
1. Corey Koskie 0.17
2. Doug Mientkiewicz 0.16

Box

 


2002 ALCS Game 2

August 19, 2014

October 9, 2002

Mychael Urban’s article at MLB.com described a bit of a role reversal, similar to Game 1 of the ALDS:

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins are the best defensive team in baseball, and they work so well in the giant sandwich bag that is the Metrodome that they might have the best home-field advantage in baseball, too.

But you wouldn’t have known that while watching the top of the second inning in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series on Wednesday. Balls that usually haunt Minnesota’s opponents here fell in favor of the Angels, and a rare Twins defensive lapse helped Anaheim score its fourth run in a 6-3 win that sent the series West in a deadlock.

“They play the game just like we do, and I saw that in the second inning,” said Twins center fielder Torii Hunter. “They did everything we usually do.”

The story of the pitching matchup pre-game had been home runs. Twins starter Rick Reed had allowed four in Game 3 of the ALDS a week before. Ramon Ortiz of the Angels had allowed 40 on the year, including three to the Twins in a game in May.

The Angels got to Reed with the long ball early when Darin Erstad hit a bomb in the first inning, but in the end it was sloppy defense and Angels’ hustle that did the Twins in. The Angels took the extra bases, forced throwing errors, and generally created havoc on the base paths to score three in the second inning.

Reed allowed another home run, this time a two-run shot to Troy Glaus in the top of the 6th, that ended Reed’s game and gave the Angels a 6-0 lead.

By the time the Twins bats woke up in the bottom of the 6th, it was too late. The result was a 6-3 Angels win and a 1-1 series headed west to Anaheim.

Top WPA

1. Brad Fullmer 0.12
2. Troy Percival 0.10
3. Doug Mientkiewicz 0.09

…and the worst…

1. Rick Reed -0.25
2. Adam Kennedy -0.09

Box

 


2002 ALCS Game 1

August 17, 2014

October 8, 2002

Joe Mays was masterful in Game 1 of the ALCS against the Anaheim Angels, looking more like he did in 2001 than his 2002 numbers suggest. The Angels, who were fresh off a series against the Yankees in which they averaged nearly eight runs per game, looked off balance throughout the game. Mays allowed just four hits over the course of eight innings pitched, and if it weren’t for a ball that shortstop Cristian Guzman allowed through his legs, Mays would have held the Angels scoreless.

An interesting story about the decision to bring Guardado in to finish the game despite Mays only having thrown 99 pitches from Stew Thornley’s article in the SABR Games Project:

The Twins took their 2-1 lead into the ninth, and Gardenhire brought in Eddie Guardado to finish it off. Mays had delivered 99 pitches in what he called “the game of my career,” and had been asked how he was feeling by pitching coach Rick Anderson in the last of the eighth. “I said, ‘I feel great. I’ll go out there and close this out if you like me to. But Eddie’s been doing it all year, that’s his job.’ I gave him the option.

“It took me a little longer to loosen up in the eighth inning. That was the only reason I gave him that option. Otherwise, I would have told him I was ready to go back out there.”

The Twins scored on AJ Pierzynski’s second inning sacrifice fly that knocked in Torii Hunter who had doubled earlier in the inning, and on a Corey Koskie double to right field in the fifth inning.

Top WPA
1. Joe Mays 0.49
2. Eddie Guardado 0.17
3. Corey Koskie 0.15

Tough day for the middle of the Angels’ order, which went 0-for-8 combined:

1. Garret Anderson -0.17
2. Troy Glaus -0.17

Box

 

 


2002 ALDS Game 5

August 14, 2014

October 6, 2002

“You can’t get rid of the Twins,” left-fielder Jacque Jones said. “[Contraction proponents] tried it. Then the strike situation. The Oakland A’s were up 2-1 [in the series]. We just never quit.” – Jacque Jones

You can forgive the 2002 Twins for assigning more meaning to their ALDS win over the Oakland A’s. Just a year before, there were reasons to have serious doubts if there even would be a 2002 Minnesota Twins.

While there was drama throughout Game 5, it looked as though the Twins had put the game away heading into the bottom of the ninth with a three-run top of the ninth.

The inning started when Dustan Mohr drew a walk from A’s closer Billy Koch. The next batter, AJ Pierzysnki, made a 2-1 Twins lead into a 4-1 lead with one swing of the bat. He reportedly said “Booya” as he stomped on home plate**, causing Koch to refer to him as a “jackass” in some post game interviews.

**It was later revealed that it may have been Dustan Mohr who yelled “Booya” at home plate, but this may be a case where facts get in the way of a good story – this was a very Pierzynski thing to say.

A David Ortiz RBI double made the score 5-1, which seemed like a safe lead with one of the best closers in baseball on the mound. As it turned out, two of the first three A’s batters reached safely, and Mark Ellis hit a three-run home run to pull the A’s within one. After getting the second out of the inning, Eddie Guardado provided more drama by allowing Randy Velarde, the tying run, to reach with a single. Finally, the game and series ended when he coaxed a foul ball pop out from the bat of Ray Durham.

The celebration ended the post season for Denny Hocking, who was the most valuable position player in the game according to WPA.

1. Brad Radke 0.35
2. Mark Mulder 0.17
3. Denny Hocking 0.14

Hocking, of course, had his finger spiked by a teammate in the celebration. Lost in all of the late inning drama, however, was how good Brad Radke had been.

One big key to the Twins’ advancement is their starting pitcher, Brad Radke. The long-time ace right-hander delivered in the biggest game of his career, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing one run on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts.

“He has been our man for a long time here,” Gardenhire said. “And he did it again today. He picked up our baseball team again, and it was vintage Brad Radke — [he] used all his pitches [and] got us through the 7th inning.”

Bottom WPA:

1. Jacque Jone -0.20
2. Terrence Long -0.20

Box

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.