MINNEAPOLIS — When Angel first baseman Scott Spiezio kicked the ball out of Minnesota catcher A.J. Pierzynski's glove while scoring in the second inning of Wednesday night's game, Oakland closer Billy Koch probably stood in front of his television and cheered.
Pierzynski, it seems, left a lasting and not-so-favorable impression on the A's reliever, who gave up three runs in the ninth inning of the Twins' 5-4 division series-clinching victory Sunday.
"He's a jackass," Koch told the San Francisco Chronicle while cleaning out his locker in Network Associates Coliseum on Monday.
Koch said Pierzynski "popped off" throughout the division series, and one play in particular, when Pierzynski stood on top of the plate while Eric Chavez scored without a throw home in the first inning of Game 1, irked the A's pitcher.
Pierzynski, who has a reputation for being cocky, said, "I don't do anything personally to anyone, I just want to win. I don't realize what I'm doing sometimes. Sometimes I'm in a different world."
A simple question during Wednesday's pregame interview session with Twin Manager Ron Gardenhire had reporters rolling with laughter. What makes Angel reliever Ben Weber such a tough pitcher to bat against?
"His glasses," Gardenhire said of the goggles-wearing right-hander with the herky-jerky motion. "Glasses are really tough. We won't talk about that nasty sinker or slider, we'll talk about those glasses he wears....
"I don't know. He's nasty. I mean, he's not just tough on our team, he's tough on everybody. That double hitch that he does out there, I mean, I don't know if as a little kid you emulated players growing up like Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle....
"Our players do it right now. They love to go out there and imitate his style. That's pretty special. Maybe they're watching that instead of his pitches, I don't know."
Infielder Denny Hocking, sidelined for the series because of a finger injury, has been busy trying to accommodate a group of 36 relatives and friends seeking tickets for this weekend's games at Edison Field.
Hocking, born in Torrance and preparing to move to Orange, said coordinating a cheering section isn't as easy as it seems.
"I wish I was from somewhere else," he said. "They'd make it easy on me if they'd just all come to the games all three days, but some can only come Friday and Saturday and I've got to find tickets for those people on Sunday."
Judging from what the Angels have told Hocking about the atmosphere at Edison Field these days, he believes his enthusiastic bunch should fit in well.
"I watched those games with the Yankees on TV, and it was a sea of red out there," said Hocking, who has attended Angel games since 1986. "I'm sure it probably brought [Darin] Erstad back to his Nebraska days.
"I remember my buddy getting free tickets at the ballpark the night Roger Clemens pitched, sitting one row behind the Boston Red Sox dugout and putting my feet up. You probably wouldn't be able to do that now."
The score of Game 1 may have been close, but in regard to TV ratings, it was a wipeout.
Minneapolis averaged a 41.4 Nielsen rating with a 56 share for the Twins' 2-1 victory over the Angels on Tuesday night, while Los Angeles had a 15.9/28.
Nationally, the game televised by Fox averaged a 7.3/12. Last year, Fox averaged a 7.1/12 for its first prime-time telecast of the second round--Game 2 of the National League championship series between Atlanta and Arizona.