October 8, 2002
ALCS, Game One
Twins: Jacque Jones (LF), Cristian Guzman (SS), Corey Koskie (3B), David Ortiz (DH), Torii Hunter (CF), Doug Mientkiewicz (1B), Michael Cuddyer (RF), A.J. Pierzynski (C), Luis Rivas (2B), Joe Mays (P)
After an emotional and life-affirming win in Game Five of the ALDS, the Twins hosted the Angels for the Championship Series. While Anaheim had finished 99-63, 4.5 games better than the Twins, they were the Wild Card team. Minnesota had already beaten the AL West winner. But the Angels were a different animal.
Anaheim had talent all over the roster, leading to a run differential of +207. The Twins were +56. The Halos had a significantly better offense, and significantly better starting pitchers. Oh, and more playoff experience, which is something the national media wouldn't let anyone forget. Lest anyone forget, they also broke a couple of playoff records on the offensive side of the ball against the Yankees in their half of the ALDS.
Torii Hunter led off the second inning by taking the first pitch he saw from 34-year old Kevin Appier and driving it to right field for a double. Appier, who was in his last full season and hadn't been particularly effective in his one start against New York, was regularly behind in the count. A wild pitch to Doug Mietkiewicz moved Hunter to third, and he eventually scored on an A.J. Pierzynski sac fly.
The Angels equalized in the top of the third, thanks to back-to-back two out singles and then a Cristian Guzman error that allowed Adam Kennedy to score.
Luis Rivas and Guzman each reached in the fifth, and with one out Corey Koskie came up with another big October hit. He'd led the Twins with five RBI in the Division Series, and with another one here gave the Twins a 2-1 lead.
Appier was done after the fifth, but Mays stayed on through the eighth. With the entirety of the Dome on its feet and with Homer Hankies creating a sea of white, Eddie Guardado struck out the dangerous Troy Glaus to end it with the tying run on first base.
It was an incredible way to start the series, and it wasn't anything other than what you could expect from either team. Timely hitting and big pitches made the difference, and the Twins took a 1-0 series lead.