MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Fifty-five thousand screaming fans on their
feet, rocking the Metrodome and waving their Homer Hankies.
Excellent pitching, timely hitting and a tense one-run game.
The Minnesota Twins aren't going to go away.
They even grounded the high-flying Anaheim Angels, the team that
broke all those offensive records last week against the New York
''Just so much energy, so much enthusiasm,'' Joe Mays said after
limiting Anaheim to four singles in eight innings and leading
Minnesota to a 2-1 win Tuesday night in the opener of this
improbable AL championship series.
''Wow, that was just ... wow!'' catcher A.J. Pierzynski said.
The team that wasn't supposed to make it to Opening Day isn't a
surprise anymore. Even Bud Selig knows that. After trying to kill
off the team, the baseball commissioner showed up and saw Minnesota
move within three wins of its first World Series in 11 years.
''I'm glad he came out to give us some support,'' Twins
outfielder Torii Hunter said. ''We won't fault him for all of that
that happened. Bud was just doing his job.''
Signaling the time has come to forget the Yankees, Braves and
other big spenders who have dominated the playoffs in recent years,
the Twins showed just how dominant they are in the Metrodome,
improving to 13-2 there in postseason play. Game 2 is in the dome
Wednesday night, with Rick Reed pitching for the Twins against
The Metrodome was festive and loud for its biggest baseball game
since Oct. 27, 1991, when Jack Morris' 10-inning shutout beat
Atlanta 1-0 in Game 7 of the World Series.
This was another tight one, with Anaheim's Kevin Appier almost
matching Mays. The Twins got just five hits and the Angels four,
and the crowd was on its feet shouting during key points and
throughout the ninth inning.
''This is the game we play against Anaheim every time,''
Pierzynski said. ''One run, one way or the other, one pitch decides
it. It's exciting baseball. You can't ask for much more as a fan or
as a player.''
Baseball owners had tried to fold the Twins along with the
Montreal Expos last offseason, but were blocked by the Minnesota
courts. Since then, the Twins have seemed intent on banging the
gavel on all of baseball, wanting to force Selig to hand them the
World Series trophy.
''Contract-ula-tions Twins for a superb season/All the way for
Bud's sake'' read one sign behind home plate.
''I think the place had a lot of electricity in it. Obviously,
the fans were into it,'' Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. ''They
looked like they were reacting to every pitch. I thought it was a
Anaheim, too, is a surprise to be here. The Angels are seeking
their first World Series appearance since joining the major leagues
Mays, hit hard by Oakland in Game 2 of the five-game division
series, shut down the Angels, who hit .376 in their four-game
victory over the four-time defending AL champion Yankees -- the
highest average by a team in any postseason series.
''He had everything tonight,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire
said. ''He went right at the hitters and made them swing the
Mays allowed only four hits and an unearned run caused by an
error by shortstop Cristian Guzman. Mays, who threw 68 of 98
pitches for strikes, called it ''the game of my career'' and
described the atmosphere as ''overwhelming.''
''There was just so much energy, so much enthusiasm in the
crowd,'' he said. ''To go out there and give them a good game to
watch -- I think that gives them the reward.''
Mays, who struck out three and walked none, came out after the
eighth inning. He retired his final 13 batters but tightened up a
little after the eighth and told his manager he wouldn't mind if
Eddie Guardado finished.
''I would have given him the ball. He had the option to go back
out there in the ninth,'' Gardenhire said.
''I asked him if it was down. He said 'No, it was a good pitch.'
I came back and looked at it on the film, and it was a good
pitch,'' Glaus said. ''He was right.''
Anaheim, whose .282 regular-season batting average led the major
leagues, didn't get a single leadoff man on and hit .129
(4-for-31). Last week, the Angels batted .361 against the Yankees
with two-strike counts. They were 0-for-14 with two strikes against
''Everything was on the black,'' said Adam Kennedy, who scored
Anaheim's only run. ''We just didn't pressure them tonight.''
Appier, winless in four postseason appearances gave up two runs
and five hits in five innings, but it wasn't enough.
Minnesota went ahead in the second when Hunter doubled, advanced
on a wild pitch and came home on Pierzynski's sacrifice fly.
Anaheim tied it in the third on singles by Kennedy and David
Eckstein, and the error by Guzman on a grounder by Erstad that
stayed down on the slick artificial surface. Minnesota had the
fewest errors in the major leagues during the regular season (74)
and Anaheim (87) was second in the AL.
Koskie drove in the go-ahead run in the fifth with a double off
a hanging splitter that landed just inside the right-field line. It
came after Luis Rivas walked and Guzman singled.
''This is a pretty big win,'' Koskie said. ''But we've still got
to win three more ballgames.''
Rod Carew, whose number was retired by the Twins and
Angels, got his 3,000th hit playing for the Angels against the
Twins in 1985. ... The home team hadn't won the ALCS opener since