This article was written by Stew Thornley
After taking the first game of the American League Championship Series, Minnesota sent right-hander Rick Reed to the mound in Game Two, against Russ Ortiz of Anaheim, which hoped to tie the series and gain the home-field edge as the series would then shift to Anaheim for the next three games. Ortiz had given up 40 home runs during the regular season, including three to Minnesota in his only start against the Twins, a 5-1 loss in Anaheim in May.
Reed, who had been one of Minnesota’s steadiest starters during the final part of the regular season, had been tagged for four homers by the Oakland Athletics in his previous start, in the Division Series. His woes with the gopher ball continued against Anaheim. With one out in the first, Erstad, on a 0-and-2 pitch, turned on a two-seam fastball that came back over the plate. The result was a home run over the right-field fence to give the Angels a 1-0 lead.
The Angels’ Troy Glaus started the second by grounding a single to right and stopped at third as Brad Fullmer lined a double to right-center. Scott Spiezio then hit a pop fly down the right-field line that fell in front of Michael Cuddyer. Glaus scored on the play but Fullmer, who had to hold up to see if the ball would drop or be caught, had to stop at third as Spiezio pulled into second with a double.
It looked as though Reed might escape without any more runs being scored. Bengie Molina flied to shallow right as Fullmer held, and Adam Kennedy hit a grounder toward the right side that Reed snagged. Fullmer had already broken for the plate and was an easy out as Reed tossed home. Spiezio went to third on the play. With David Eckstein at bat, Kennedy got caught leaning the wrong way as Reed made a pickoff throw to first. As Kennedy started for second, Spiezio took off from third and Doug Mientkiewicz fired home. His throw was slightly behind catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The catcher caught it and tried a swipe tag on Spiezio, who stayed on his feet as he crossed the plate. In doing so, Spiezio knocked the ball out of Pierzynski’s glove and scored as Kennedy went to third. Pierzynski was charged with the error with Mientkiewicz and Reed getting assists on the play (and Spiezio being charged with a caught stealing). Eckstein, after falling behind in the count, 0-and-2, fouled off three pitches before dumping a single to right to bring in Kennedy.
The Twins’ inability to execute on the pickoff play had cost them two runs and left them trailing 4-0. In the last of the third, Minnesota found itself on the receiving end of a successful pickoff, Luis Rivas being caught off first by pitcher Ortiz after a leadoff hit. Minnesota also got leadoff singles in the fourth and fifth, by David Ortiz and Pierzynski, respectively, but in each case the next batter grounded into a double play.
Reed settled down after the three-run second, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had his bullpen active as early as the fifth, even though Reed had made only 59 pitches through four innings and needed only nine more to put down the Angels in the fifth. “When you’re down 4-0, you try not to get any deeper than that,” he explained after the game. “You get in that situation, you don’t want to get down too many runs.”[fn]Postgame interview/press conference attended by the author, October 9, 2002.[/fn]
Johan Santana was up in the bullpen again in the sixth, and was brought in after the Angels struck quickly for two more runs. With one out, Glaus tripled down the right-field line and Fullmer homered to left-center, making the score 6-0.
Minnesota finally broke through off Ortiz in the sixth. Cristian Guzman opened with a double and scored on a single by Corey Koskie. Ramon Ortiz struck out David Ortiz, but then gave up a double to Torii Hunter. Koskie stopped at third, and both runners scored when Mientkiewicz grounded a single up the middle. That was all for Ortiz as Brendan Donnelly entered the game and struck out Cuddyer. Pierzynski hit a soft liner toward right but Kennedy was able to get back from his second-base position and catch the drive for the third out.
Francisco Rodriguez, the Angels’ hard-throwing young right-hander, was on the mound in the last of the seventh and retired Rivas, Jacque Jones, and Guzman. He got the first two outs in the eighth before walking Hunter and giving up a single to Mientkiewicz. Anaheim skipper Mike Scioscia then went to his bullpen ace, Troy Percival.
Bobby Kielty came out to hit for Cuddyer and gave Percival a battle. Against fastballs of more than 95 miles an hour, Kielty fell behind, one ball and two strikes, then stayed alive by fouling off two pitches as Percival tried to bring the heat higher in the zone each time. “I was trying to climb the ladder against him, and he kept fouling off,” Percival said. “He was right on it. I knew I had to brush him back off the plate or come up with something offspeed.” Percival went with the latter option. “It was a changeup. I said, ‘I’m going to try to throw it in. If he does see it out of my hand, the only thing he’s going to do is pull it foul.’ It came back nice over the inside corner.”[fn]Postgame interview in the Angels clubhouse, October 9, 2002.[/fn]
Kielty disagreed with Percival’s last statement, looking at the pitch and getting called out on strikes by plate umpire Mike Everitt.
Percival struck out two more batters in the ninth, finishing off a 6-3 win for the Angels.