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