The Twins bullpen was the difference tonight as the Angels won 7-1 tonight (and lead 3-1 in the series). A scoreless pitchers' duel through 6-1/2 innings got out of hand after Minnesota starter Brad Radke left with two out in the 7th trailing 2-0.
The Twins, for the second night in a row, used a large number of pitchers in the eighth innings. Yesterday it was four; tonight it was five. The result yesterday was that lefty J.C. Romero was left in in the ninth to pitch to right-handed Troy Glaus, who ended hitting the game-winning home run. Gardenhire was roundly criticized for that move, which of course led him to doing the same tonight. Mike Jackson proved least effective facing four batters, which resulted in three hits, one walk, no outs, and three runs. Worst of all his four batters took eight pitches, four of which made up an intentional walk. The other three were basically hitting batting practice. While Gardenhire displayed an itchy trigger finger with his pitchers all night, he allowed Jackson to pitch ineffectively to for different men as the game got furthe and further out of reach.
Poor Brad Radke appeared to be pitching at least as well as if not better than John Lackey through the first six innings. But the ineffectiveness ofthe Twins' offense and their bullpen left him saddled with the loss. He left the game after hitting Benji Molina to load the bases. This was enough to cause FOX commentator Steve Lyons to question if Radke had intentionally hit Molina. It's hard to believe but Lyons actually played the game at the major-league level, although his highlight reel consists of him accidentally dropping his pants to his ankles after a headfirst slide.
It was encouraging for the Twins to mount a mini-rally in the ninth, scoring their only run. Corey Koskie scored the run and hopes that his postseason slump is now over (earlier in the game he got his sixth straight strikeout). David Ortiz, who has had a good number of hard-luck at-bats in the series, finally picked up his first RBI. The Twins now face elimination, and may be time for manager Ron Gardenhire to alter his strategy. Jacque Jones has been the lead-off hitter throughout the series despite only amassing one hit in 17 at-bats. Two players who swung a hot bat against Oakland in the first rounds, Matt LeCroy and Michael Cuddayer, have seen limited use in the ALCS.