Twins sweet season comes to bitter endby Jon Gordon, Minnesota Public Radio
The Twins' surge at the end of the regular season, giving them the A.L. Central Division championship, didn't last through the first round of the playoffs. The Oakland Athletics won Friday, 8-3, to complete a three-game sweep in the American League Division series.
Oakland, Calif. — Twins pitcher Brad Radke may have played the last game of his 12-year career, and it was a disappointment. Throwing with a badly injured shoulder, Radke allowed five hits and four runs, three of them earned.
"I feel bad. I gave up four runs. I let the team down a little bit," said Radke. "But it just wasn't meant to be."
After the game, Radke said a comeback is unlikely, but he seemed not quite ready to call it a career.
"Who knows? I might wake up tomorrow feeling different. But we'll see," said Radke. "I'll just make a decision here soon, and we'll go from there."
Radke said he felt good on the mound, considering the jumble of ripped tissue and cracked bone that passes for a shoulder. And A's manager Ken Macha said the velocity of Radke's pitches looked normal.
Macha said the A's Milton Bradley and Eric Chavez, who blasted early home runs, just did a good job of battling Radke.
"Coming into this game, some of our hitters had some pretty good numbers against him. And Milton was one of them. Boy, that ball Milton hit really jumped out of here," said Macha. "Normally, on an overcast day like today, it doesn't fly that well. Still, he kept the team in the game. It was 4-2. So I think he pitched well enough to keep his team in the game."
Solo homers by Torii Hunter and Justin Morneau didnt help the Twins, who gave up four unearned runs in the disastrous 7th inning. Overall, Twins hitters went one-for-19 with runners in scoring position during the series, and played uncharacteristically sloppy defense.
"We picked a bad time to have some bad ballgames," said Twins Manager Ron Gardenhire. "We didn't catch the ball. We missed a lot of opportunites to drive in runs during this whole series. The Oakland A's won this series. They played good baseall. They made all the plays, they hit the ball, they came up with the big at-bats. They won this series."
Why didn't the Twins play good ball against Oakland? After all, they staged a remarkable comeback to win the Central Division on the last day -- after a slow start to the season.
"I don't know know if it was the whole thing about being in the playoffs, people not being able to play their own game or whatnot, but we just didn't play well," said shortstop Jason Bartlett. "This is probably the worst three games we played siince I got called up."
Gardenhire credited the A's with playing great ball -- much better than when these teams last met in the playoffs in 2002, when the Twins won in five games. Gardenhire said the sting of this playoff sweep will soon wear off.
"There's a lot of not-too-happy guys in the clubhouse that have worked very, very hard to get here. It's a little disappointing for us right now. But after we sit back and reflect on this thing, it's been one heck of a year for our baseball team," Gardenhire said. "Just because we had a bad series here doesn't take away from what we accomplished. It's just disappointing, because we thought we could carry this thing on a little farther."
Twins fan Cory Henrickson -- originally of St. Cloud but now living in Oakland -- waited outside the ballpark after the game, hoping for a glimpse of her favorite player, Bartlett. She carried a sign that read "Bartlett is a Hotlett." Despite a bad end to the year, she was in good spirits.
"It was sad, but it was still fun to come out and see the energy in Oakland and see the team out there," Henrickson said. "We had a good time."
Henrickson says she's crossing her fingers that the Twins will make it deeper into the post-season in 2007.
- All Things Considered, 10/06/2006, 6:20 p.m.