<
>

Benches clear twice during testy matchup

5/21/2003

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins and the Oakland
Athletics only agree on one thing about their nascent rivalry: It
isn't friendly.

Tim Hudson allowed five hits in eight innings as the A's beat
the Twins 4-1 Tuesday night in a testy rematch of last October's
playoffs.

The benches cleared twice during the game. The teams rushed the
field in the fifth inning after Rick Reed hit Ramon Hernandez with
a pitch, and the benches cleared again in the sixth when Hudson hit
Bobby Kielty.

No punches were thrown and nobody was ejected, but there was a
palpable anger in both clubhouses.

For the A's, it stems from last season's playoffs, when Twins
catcher A.J. Pierzynski angered them during Minnesota's clinching
Game 5 victory at the Coliseum. For the Twins, it's a reaction to
Oakland's animosity -- and a newfound anger from Hudson's pitch,
which didn't result in his ejection.

"It was retaliation," Kielty claimed. "It's part of the game,
really."

"There's no way I was trying to hit him," Hudson said.
"That's ridiculous."

Hudson (4-1) was among the A's who attached special significance
to this series, and he pitched accordingly while winning for just
the second time since April 16. He allowed just one runner to reach
third base, and he retired his final seven hitters.

Hudson has allowed just 11 runs in his last seven starts, but
poor run support and bad luck have limited his win total despite
Oakland's outstanding start.

"I'm happy he finally got a win after he's been pitching so
well for so long without getting anything," Oakland manager Ken
Macha said. "It's more than a solid outing. It's outstanding."

The game was quiet until Reed hit Hernandez, who nearly reached
first base before turning and exchanging words with Reed while
moving toward the mound. The benches and bullpens emptied, but the
teams exchanged no more than shoves. Plate umpire Doug Eddings
warned both managers.

With two outs and a runner on second base in the sixth, Hudson
hit Kielty in the buttocks with a 2-1 pitch. As with Reed and
Hernandez, the pitch didn't seem intentional -- but that didn't stop
both teams from crowding the field again.

"The only question I have is when you throw out warnings and a
guy gets hit, he should be tossed," Reed said. "We have a guy
(Brad Radke) serving a five-game suspension doing the same thing.
After the playoffs last year, there's a little bit of a rivalry. We
enjoy coming in here and playing them."

"It's two teams that had some emotional, intense games," Scott
Hatteberg said. "It builds a bit of a rivalry, and when people get
hit, things get read into it. I don't think it was anything
intentional."

Pierzynski was booed by the Coliseum crowd in each of his
at-bats. When Pierzynski came to the plate in the seventh, everyone
watched closely -- but Hudson simply struck out Pierzynski with a
nasty curveball.

Last weekend, Terrence Long and Hudson expressed their team's
dislike for Pierzynski. The A's claim Pierzynski showed them up
when he hit an important homer in Game 5 of the division series --
flipping his bat, then taunting catcher Greg Myers when he crossed
home plate.

Nonsense, say the Twins -- and their denials got even more
vehement before the game, when Denny Hocking berated a media
contingent quizzing Pierzynski about the episode.

"That's all over with," Pierzynski claimed before the game.
"Everyone has moved on from that. We've got nothing but respect
for the A's as a franchise. I was shocked (by the comments of Long
and Hudson), but there's nothing I can do about it."

Minnesota seems to have an interest in rough play: The Twins'
bench has cleared four times in the last four weeks.

"It seems a little silly, really," Twins manager Ron
Gardenhire said. "We're here to play baseball. No one got in too
much trouble."

New leadoff sensation Eric Byrnes extended his hitting streak to
11 games with an RBI double among his three hits. Hatteberg also
drove in two runs as Oakland improved the majors' best home record
to 17-5.

Keith Foulke pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 14 chances.

Torii Hunter had a run-scoring single for the Twins, whose
three-game winning streak was snapped at the start of a six-game
West Coast road trip.

Reed (2-5) was constantly in trouble, allowing a hit in each of
his six innings. He yielded 11 hits and two walks, though he also
escaped several jams.

Miguel Tejada added a sacrifice fly in the sixth, and Hatteberg
drove home Byrnes with an eighth-inning double.

Chris Singleton reached above the low center-field wall in the
seventh to take away a homer from Todd Sears.

Game notes
Byrnes, who got a chance in the starting lineup because of
Jermaine Dye's knee injury, hit leadoff for the third straight
game. ... Oakland won for the 10th time in 15 games, while
Minnesota lost for just the fourth time in 15. ... Gardenhire was
worried about his defense during Gold Glove first baseman Doug
Mientkiewicz's absence with a sprained ankle, but replacement Sears
made an exceptional diving catch on Hernandez's foul pop near the
Twins' dugout in the third.

Comments