TORONTO -- The battle of the bullpens went to the Minnesota Twins, and it is no coincidence that the American League Championship Series went the same way.
Twins relievers pitched 18 1/3 innings in the five-game playoff and did not allow an earned run. The Blue Jays, thought at the outset to have more bullpen depth, did not pitch poorly in relief (3.22 ERA), but Toronto relievers did not pitch well enough to make a difference in the lopsided series.
"Their bullpen completely shut us down," said Blue Jays outfielder Joe Carter. "We knew they had three tough starting pitchers, but we didn't do anything about [Carl] Willis, [David] West and [Rick] Aguilera. They shut us down and we didn't shut them down."
West got the victory yesterday for three hitless innings of relief. He gave up one hit over 5 2/3 innings in the series. Willis worked in three games and gave up two hits in 5 1/3 innings. Aguilera had three saves.
The Blue Jays had given up four earned runs in 18 1/3 innings going into yesterday's game (1.96), but a tiring Duane Ward surrendered three runs in 2 1/3 innings to take the loss.
When Toronto's Cito Gaston was ejected from the game for cursing umpire Mike Reilly after the second inning, he became the first manager in LCS history to be ejected. There have been six prior playoff ejections, all involving players.
Gaston had been ejected only one other time this year, July 26 by umpire John Hirschbeck in a game against the Kansas City Royals.
This time, he was tossed after criticizing the job Reilly was doing behind the plate.
"It was very simple," Reilly said. "He called me over and said, 'Hey, Mike, you got to give us a good game.' I said, 'You're getting a good game.' He said, 'bleep you.' That was it. He never once mentioned anything about pitches."
Carter remains in lineup
Carter was back in the designated hitter spot yesterday, and this time no one could complain. Playing on a tender ankle, Carter hit a ground-rule double to drive in a run in the Blue Jays' three-run third inning.
"I was in a lot of pain [Saturday], but I wanted to contribute," Carter said before the game. "I'm definitely going to help the team today."
And he did.
Alomar on a roll
Blue Jays second baseman Roberto Alomar has been the most productive hitter in the playoffs. He entered yesterday's game batting .467 and drove in three runs with a single and a two-run double. Alomar and teammate Devon White hit safely in all five games of the series.
Knoblauch's big hit
Twins rookie Chuck Knoblauch snapped an 0-for-9 string with his game-tying two-run double in the sixth inning. It was his seventh hit of the series. He already set the record for most hits by a rookie in the ALCS. The seven hits are the most by a rookie in postseason play since New York Yankees infielder Brian Doyle
had seven in the 1978 World Series.
Puckett goes deep
Kirby Puckett became the 10th player in ALCS history to homer in consecutive games when he took knuckleballer Tom Candiotti deep in the first inning. The last player to do it was Dave Parker, who homered in back-to-back games for the Oakland Athletics in the 1989 playoff with the Blue Jays. Puckett got the Twins started in Game 4 with a bases-empty home run in the fourth inning.
Pat Borders' 2 passed balls in the second inning set an ALCS record. No other AL catcher has had as many in an entire playoff game. In fact, only former California Angels catcher Bob Boone has had 2 in a series. . . . Third baseman Kelly Gruber became the fifth player to commit 3 or more errors in an ALCS. Red Sox shortstop Spike Owen holds the record with 5, in 1986. . . . John Olerud needed 2 errors in the fifth inning to reach base. He stayed at the plate after Twins shortstop Greg Gagne dropped his foul pop, then was safe on an error by catcher Brian Harper.
The Blue Jays were faced with a very difficult situation when they dropped 3 of the first 4 games of the AL Championship Series. That has happened 41 times previously in LCS and World Series play, and only 7 teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-7 postseason series:
Pirates def. Senators (WS, 1925)
Yankees def. Braves (WS, 1958)
Tigers def. Cardinals (WS, 1968)
Pirates def. Orioles (WS, 1979)
Royals def. Blue Jays (ALCS, 1985)
Royals def. Cardinals (WS, 1985)
Red Sox def. Angels (ALCS, 1986)
Blue Jays in the ALCS
1985: lost to Royals, 4-3
1989: Lost to Athletics, 4-1
1991: Lost to Twins, 4-1
Record: Won 5, Lost 12