After the game, Hunter was still rubbing his eyes to get rid of
the dirt from a diving catch on the center-field warning track in
the second inning of the Minnesota Twins' 4-3 victory against the
Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
Hunter hit a two-run homer that tied the game in the fourth and
robbed the A's twice with his impressive defensive play -- stealing
a hit from Mark Ellis with the catch and taking a run away from
Eric Byrnes with a nice throw to home plate in the first.
"He tried to tell me he didn't know it was a nationally
televised game," said Rogers, who's 17-0 in Oakland since Aug. 7,
1994, when he was with the Texas Rangers.
"I don't know of any
other player who could have caught that ball. I had as good a view
as anybody ... and I knew that ball was not going to be caught. How
he closed the gap I'll never know. He helped keep me in the game."
Some clutch hitting helped, too.
The Twins scored the tying run in the eighth off Ricardo Rincon,
who allowed a leadoff single to Cristian Guzman. LaTroy Hawkins
(4-0) pitched a 1-2-3 seventh for the win and Eddie Guardado worked
the ninth for his 11th save in as many chances.
Rogers had been 2-0 in his previous four starts, but did not get
enough run support to earn the win against his former team. The
left-hander, who went 15-0 at home during 1998 and '99 while
playing for the A's, allowed three runs and nine hits in six
"I wasn't nearly as comfortable as I wanted to be today," he
said, noting it's "not automatic" winning in Oakland.
The benches emptied twice in Oakland's 4-1 win Tuesday that
began a three-game series, a testy rematch from last fall's
playoffs. The Twins won the deciding fifth game of the AL division
series to eliminate the defending AL West champs.
The wildest thing to happen Wednesday was a wild pitch by Rogers
in the fourth that allowed Ellis to score from third -- and there
also was a crazy play in the ninth. A fan caught a ball in the
right field seats that right-fielder Mohr had been chasing down in
foul territory. Interference was called and Mohr was credited with
"I was watching the ball in my glove to make sure I could catch
it and the next thing I know I'm getting smashed in the head,"
Mohr said. "He was wearing a Raiders hat. I thought he'd found out
somehow that I'm a (Denver) Broncos fan."
Earlier in the top of the inning, Chad Bradford (2-3) hit Corey
Koskie in the left elbow, but Koskie calmly walked to first with
his hands on his hips.
Zito, who pitched seven innings, allowed the homer among his
five hits and got his first no decision this season. The reigning
AL Cy Young Award winner missed a chance to pick up his seventh win
and move into a four-way tie for the most wins in the AL.
Oakland's outstanding pitching staff has allowed four or fewer
earned runs in its last nine games -- with Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark
Mulder going a combined 16-6 in 29 starts this season.
But the bullpen couldn't back up Zito this time, and the A's
didn't get enough offense.
"I was trying to be too fine, especially with my changeup,"
Zito said. "I should just throw it instead of trying to guide
Hunter drove a 2-1 pitch off Zito into the bleachers in left in
the fourth to tie the game at 2, and he considered his seventh
homer of the year a bigger accomplishment than the catch.
Manager Ron Gardenhire liked it all.
"Torii Hunter put on a show," Gardenhire said.
When he went face first into the dirt for the catch, it opened a
cut on his left knee.
"It hurt," Hunter said. "I'm all right. I'm a soldier. Making
plays like that pumps me up."
Byrnes extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a
third-inning single to center and Miguel Tejada singled in his
first two at-bats for the A's, who are 8-3 against left-handed
Byrnes scored a run on Eric Chavez's single in the third after
being denied by Hunter in the first.
"We didn't cash in on our opportunities early in the game like
we should have and they took advantage of their opportunities,"
A's manager Ken Macha said.
Erubiel Durazo drove in a run with a single in the first to
break an 0-for-5 slump. It was one of three hits in the inning off
Twins 1B Todd Sears was held out of the game with a jammed
back he sustained making a sliding catch Tuesday. He's expected
back in the lineup Thursday. ... Adam Piatt singled in the ninth,
breaking an 0-for-22 skid. ... Zito is 1-2 vs. Minnesota in six
career regular-season starts. ... The Twins had not scored four or
more runs in their previous three games. They are 22-4 when scoring
four or more and 4-15 when they score three or fewer. ... Zito has
gone at least seven innings in six of 10 starts.