October 12, 2002
ALCS, Game Four
Angels Lead Series, 2-1
Somewhere along the line, Gardy decided that 23-year old rookie Michael Cuddyer was done being his starting right fielder. It's fair enough, considering that Cuddyer had just 143 Major League plate appearances under his belt going into the 2002 post-season. But Cuddyer had also hit .385/.500/.462 in the ALDS. Now, the job belonged to the slightly more experienced 26-year old Dustan Mohr.
To his own credit, Mohr had a nice post-season. But he was largely being used as a defensive replacement late in games until Game Three of the series.
Brad Radke was facing off against rookie John Lackey. Lackey was called up to start the second game of a double-header, and was never sent back to Triple-A. Scott Schoenweiss was moved to the bullpen to make room in the rotation, which made far better use of his skills, and Lackey made 18 starts, tallied 108 innings, and finished tied for fourth in Rookie of the Year balloting - with Twins outfielder Bobby Kielty.
It turned out that both starters pitched well. Radke was good, but Lackey was better. The Angels didn't score a hit off Radke until the fourth, but both teams were scoreless through the sixth. Lackey held serve for the top half of the inning, but Anaheim finally broke through for a run in the bottom half.
Until the bottom of the seventh, Radke had allowed just two hits to the Angels. He was sharp, and no single at-bat had ended with the Minnesota starter behind in the count. It came undone. Darin Erstad flared a ball the dropped in shallow right field, stole second, and then Tim Salmon took a walk to put runners on first and second. Radke then got Garrett Anderson to pop up for the first out. With the double play still in order, and considering how strong the pitching had been to that point, it was a tense situation but there was an easy out just waiting to be exploited.
But Troy Glaus singled on a 1-0 pitch, scoring Erstad and putting the game's first run on the board. Radke got Brad Fullmer swinging for out number two, but then Scott Spiezio doubled and Bengie Molina got beaned on the first pitch of his at-bat. It's easy to see how the Angels may have though Radke hit Molina on purpose, considering all the circumstances.
After getting the last out of the seventh, Johan Santana came out for the eighth. He had Erstad picked off with one out but threw the ball away. LaTroy Hawkins did his job for out number two, but J.C. Romero and Michael Jackson combined to let five batters in a row reach safely, scoring five more runs along the way. By the time Bob Wells struck out Adam Kennedy to end the carnage, it was 7-0 and very late in the game.
The Twins would add a pointless run in the top of the ninth, but considering how Lackey had pitched and considering how daunting the task of scoring one run off of the Anaheim bullpen would be nevertheless seven, the game was effectively over when Radke gave up his two runs in the seventh.
Minnesota was down three games to one, and facing elimination there were still stuck in Rally Monkey hell for one more day.