Though contraction was now off the table, the early months of the Twins’ 2002 season were still played with that memory fresh in the minds of fans. Thankfully, the Twins had gotten off to a great start, and though they had been swept over the weekend in Detroit, took the first three games from lowly Tampa Bay. The get away day starter was Matt Kinney, who had a tough outing in Detroit on Saturday. Tampa Bay sent Paul Wilson to the mound for the afternoon game in front of 14,106 fans.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays Minnesota Twins 1. J Tyner LF 1. J Jones LF 2. R Winn RF 2. J Canizaro 2B 3. S Cox 1B 3. D Mientkiewicz 1B 4. B Grieve DH 4. M LeCroy DH 5. T Hall C 5. T Hunter CF 6. C Gomez SS 6. C Koskie 3B 7. J Conti CF 7. B Kielty RF 8. R Johnson 3B 8. A Pierzynski C 9. F Escalona 2B 9. D Hocking SS P Wilson P M Kinney P
The two starters exchanged very good innings for the first six, and the only run allowed by either came on a sacrifice fly by Chris Gomez in the fourth for Tampa Bay.
The problems started when Kinney was removed in favor of Jack Cressend to start the seventh. Cressend allowed three consecutive singles (Conti, Johnson, and Escalona); and left the game with the team down 2-0, no outs, and two men on.
LaTroy Hawkins came into the game and immediately allowed another run to score on a Jason Tyner sacrifice fly. After striking out Randy Winn, it looked as though Hawkins and the Twins might get out of the inning only down three. Unfortunately for the Twins, four consecutive hits later, they found themselves in a 6-0 hole.
The Twins answered in the bottom of the seventh. Corey Koskie hit a two-run home run and AJ Pierzynski tripled home Bobby Kielty as part of a four-run inning that came off of three different Rays’ pitchers.
Tony Fiore entered the game for the Twins in the top of the eighth and provided some stability from the bullpen. The teams entered the bottom of the ninth still at 6-4 in favor of Tampa Bay.
Esteban Yan entered the game to try and close it out, but was removed after he walked Pierzynski and Hocking to start the inning. Steven Kent, a lefty, came in to face Jacque Jones. Jones laid down a sacrifice to move the runners over, but it was followed up by a harmless pop up by Jay Canizaro. The Twins were down to their last out when Doug Mientkiewicz ripped a single to score two and tie the game.
After Fiore pitched his third scoreless inning in the 10th; Hunter, Koskie, and Kielty were due to try and win the game for the home team.
After a Hunter ground out, Ron Gardenhire yelled to Koskie “Come on Koskie, we just need a single!” Instead, Koskie hit the ball into the left field seats to end the game and complete the comeback from six down.
Stars of the Game
1. Corey Koskie 3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI
2. Tony Fiore 3 IP 0 R 1 H
3. Doug Mientkiewicz game-tying 2-RBI single