AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES

Twins steal opener in New York


Minnesota's Cristian Guzman slides into third ahead of the throw to New York's Aaron Boone.

The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 1, 2003 at 1:00 a.m.

NEW YORK - Instead of getting tight when Johan Santana cramped up, the Minnesota Twins stayed loose.

Playing a postseason game in Yankee Stadium for the first time, the Twins were guarding a one-run lead in the fifth inning when their pitcher suddenly couldn't go to the mound for the bottom half.

``One thing you don't do is show panic in the dugout,'' Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``So I just said, 'Well, let's have some fun. We are going to piece it together.' And that's what we did.''

Those pesky Twins put the big, bad Yankees in another postseason funk.

Torii Hunter circled the bases when his line drive resulted in a pair of misplays that led to two sixth-inning runs, and the Twins finally beat New York, tripping up the stumbling Yankees 3-1 in Tuesday's AL playoff opener.

New York had rolled over the Twins during the past two seasons, going 13-0 and outscoring them 90-36. But it's the little guys who take a 1-0 lead into Game 2 Thursday night, when Brad Radke pitches against Andy Pettitte.

``It's been a running joke the last couple of days- we might just as well scrimmage these guys and get them warmed up for the next round, because that's where everybody's putting them,'' Minnesota's Jacque Jones said.

New York was favored in last year's division series, too, before Anaheim won in four games to end a run of four consecutive AL pennants. The Yankees have dropped four straight postseason games for the first time since the 1981 World Series against the Dodgers, not exactly what owner George Steinbrenner was expecting when he set payroll records last winter in an effort to get his team its first Series title since 2000.

After Santana's injury, Rick Reed, J.C. Romero, LaTroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado combined to allow five hits and one run.

Meanwhile, Bernie Williams failed to cut off Hunter's liner to center and Alfonso Soriano made an error that gave Hunter what's often called a Little League home run. Williams also flopped flat on his belly rounding first base in the day's comic highlight, and New York's batters went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, getting an RBI infield single from Soriano in the ninth.

``When the game gets sloppy and the ball gets thrown around, that makes it tough,'' said Mike Mussina, who had been 20-2 against the Twins. ``That's what the postseason is, minimizing mistakes. If you make a mistake in the postseason, they tend to be big ones.''

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