Twins end Athletics' 20-game win streak

Radke hands Oakland 1st loss since Aug. 12, 6-0

Baseball

September 07, 2002|By Jon Heyman | Jon Heyman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

MINNEAPOLIS - There were no dramatic walk-off home runs, no late-game heroics of any sort. In fact, there was almost no spark at all from the young and talented Oakland A's, whose wondrous 20-game winning streak abruptly ended last night without them putting up any sort of fuss or fight.

After Oakland's magic-less 6-0 defeat at the hands of this season's other small-market stunner, the Minnesota Twins, the 1916 New York Giants remain king with their historic 26-game run.

Not one bit of the mojo that extended Oakland's run into record territory was evident here. The A's seemed blase before they took the field, flat after they took it and unaffected as they left it.

The only similarity between this game and their previous 20 was manager Art Howe's superstitious use of a supposedly lucky pen. The Twins took hold of this script early, however.

The only thing mightier than the pen, it turns out, was Twins pitcher Brad Radke's right arm, responsible for burying the A's in his shutout.

As scrappy a crew as there ever was, the Twins played with such a determination to prevent the A's from stealing any more of their small-market spotlight than they already have. Before Oakland started reeling off victory upon victory, the Twins had been considered the champions of the little guys. On this night they performed as if they wanted their title back, and perhaps they'll have a chance to wrest it away for good if the two revenue-deprived teams meet in the first round of the American League playoffs, which seems quite possible.

As they do best, the Twins kept pecking away, out-hustling and outmaneuvering the team playing for history. Radke was masterful and the Twins offense plugged away, stacking single runs in the first, third and sixth.

Twins fans brought their old Homer Hankies out of storage when Corey Koskie made it 3-0 with a laser of a homer to center field to lead off the sixth inning.

The Twins kept piling on, and they assumed full control in the seventh inning during a rally made of speed and will. A.J. Pierzynski scored from second base on Jacque Jones' single to shortstop Miguel Tejada, when first baseman Scott Hatteberg failed to corral a low throw, or even hustle to gather it. For a team on the cusp of greatness, there was little urgency. Jones wound up scoring from first base after Cristian Guzman sent a frozen liner of a double to deep left field. Jones beat the throw of the MVP candidate Tejada, who always seemed a second behind.

By the time the Twins scored their sixth run on Mike Fyhrie's wild pitch, Twins fans were chanting "Streak is over,` under the assumption A's players were heartbroken.

The record-holding 1916 Giants of John McGraw must have felt safe from the start. By the time three Twins came to bat, they had matched the entire August run total against A's pitcher Cory Lidle by scoring once. That was plenty, as it turned out.

Lidle who has been a star of the streak with a 5-0 record and one run allowed last month, was no match for his Twins counterpart Radke, who made the A's' lineup look limp. The Oakland team that scored at least six runs in 16 of their 20 victories managed only six hits against Radke.

The A's mounted no real rallies, but they did put a little scare into Radke when Eric Chavez launched a fly ball that was only inches from hitting the foul pole with two on in the third. That was about it for the A's, not much for a team that played and acted for three weeks as if it might never lose.

Jon Heyman is a reporter for Newsday, a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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