Elimination Game One.
Yes, it's Game Three of the ALDS, but for the Minnesota Twins it's the first game of three that the Twins need to win consecutively. On the mound is Brad Radke.
Since the turnaround in early June, the Twins have seemed to be a team of destiny. No injury was too great, no game was too daunting and no one performance indicted the club's identity. Nothing stopped Minnesota from doing what it seemed the baseball gods wanted them to do: WIN.
Through the first two games of this series, Oakland has outplayed Minnesota in every angle that counts. Where it counts is performance, and everything stemming from it: personnel decisions on and off the field, individual player decisions, playing to the opponent's weaknesses and playing to your own strengths. Oakland has proved that once again, no matter how fantastic and storybook-perfect a "team of destiny" sounds, it's nothing but individual perception. Minnesota is no more deserving of a title than Oakland is...in fact, Oakland has won the first two games of this series. Oakland is more deserving than the Twins.
So today at three, the Minnesota Twins make their last stand. Standing between Oakland and the ALCS is Brad Radke.
In what could be the last start of his career, Brad Radke gets one more chance to do for the Twins what he's done all his career. He gets one more shot to come out a hero in a big game. He gets one more opportunity to continue his career, if only for one day, on the note of a champion. Brad Radke is afforded, one last time, the fortune to stand between life and death for his team.
If this were a storybook, this is where it would begin. A grizzled veteran would play past his pain, beyond what makes him fallible. His gutty performance would inspire the team to victory, all the way to the end.
This isn't a storybook; the Oakland Athletics aren't the antagonist. What this is is a great story in real life. Brad Radke, who has honored the franchise with his presence for 12 years, will pitch the most meaningful game of his career on what could be his last.
On October 6, 2004, Brad Radke was removed in the seventh inning of an ALDS game against the Yankees in New York. Two years later to the day, he can begin the final chapter of his career on a happier note.
He'll do it. GO TWINS.