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AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

Radke Loses His Way for a Change

Pitcher's 6 2/3 strong innings against an Angel team he usually dominates don't end well for the on-the-brink Twins.

October 13, 2002|Jason Reid | Times Staff Writer

Brad Radke did what he usually does when the Minnesota Twins are in trouble and need a helping hand.

This time, though, their top starter needed to do more.

He needed to be unflappable, needed to be inspiring and definitely needed to outpitch Angel rookie right-hander John Lackey with the Twins drowning in a sea of red in the American League championship series.

Radke pitched well but didn't fulfill the Twins' enormous needs Saturday night in a 7-1 loss in Game 4 before another Thunder Stix-banging crowd of 44,830 at Edison Field, contributing to making the Twins' situation even more uncomfortable.

"I did all I could but it was a tough ballgame," he said. "It's just been tough for us."

Especially now.

Radke took the loss despite working 6 2/3 strong innings against a club he has dominated throughout his eight-year career, having the misfortune of opposing Lackey on the wrong night. The right-hander made a mistake to Troy Glaus, whose single provided the first run in a two-run seventh, but was mostly hurt by more well-placed Angel bloopers.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday October 15, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 7 inches; 285 words Type of Material: Correction
Angel statistics -- Some of the statistics in the composite box score from the American League championship series were incorrect in Sports on Monday. The corrected box score appears in Sports today.

The scoreless pitching duel over and Radke off the mound, the Angels broke the game open with five runs in the eighth against the bullpen, putting the Twins on the wrong end of a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series.

The Twins sidestepped the ax of contraction en route to winning the AL Central championship and a division series over the favored Oakland Athletics, but Radke couldn't stop them from moving to the brink of a different unfortunate ending.

"Brad Radke was outstanding," Minnesota Manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I mean, their hits were bloops. They got one solid hit; Glaus hit a solid ball. They were blooping balls that were falling in for runs."

Radke gave the Twins a chance, mixing sharp fastballs, changeups and cut-fastballs, matching Lackey through six innings in a ballpark as comfortable for him as the Metrodome. In 18 career starts against the Angels, Radke is 11-4 with a 1.72 earned-run average overall, including 6-1 with a 1.38 ERA at Edison Field.

He was also 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in Minnesota's AL division series victory over Oakland, so the Twins handed the ball to the right guy with time running out in the championship series.

"You kind of hope that's the feeling, but that's the game of baseball," said Radke, who gave up five hits. "Things don't always work out like you want."

They did for the Twins until the seventh.

Radke came out in a groove, retiring the side in the first three innings, giving up only singles to leadoff batter David Eckstein and No. 8 batter Bengie Molina through six innings. The seventh unraveled quickly for Radke and the Twins after Darin Erstad's leadoff single.

With Tim Salmon batting, Erstad stole second and went to third on catcher A.J. Pierzynski's throwing error, scoring on Glaus' one-out single. With two-out, Scott Spiezio blooped a run-scoring double just inside the right-field line. After hitting Molina with a pitch, Radke was finished.

"Lackey pitched great, and maybe I could have made a better pitch to Glaus or something," he said. "It was a fastball in, pretty good pitch, but he's a good hitter. Other than that, nothing much else I could have done."

The Twins agreed.

"He did what he needed to do to keep us in the game, but we scored one run [Friday] and one run [Saturday]," left fielder Jacque Jones said. "He did his job."

And now the Twins need their biggest boost yet.

"I feel bad, we all feel bad, that we didn't do better for Radke," center fielder Torii Hunter said. "He went out there and pitched [well], he goes out there and keeps us in the game for seven innings, and we couldn't come through for him. That's just the way it's been for us."

The final chapter of their familiar story could be written today.

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