09/30/2003 10:04 PM ET
Radke ready for Game 2 start
NEW YORK -- Brad Radke wasn't slighted. He was farsighted.
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Of the three wins the Twins needed to win last year's Division Series over Oakland, Brad Radke won two of them. He didn't start Game 1 this year, but he's looking at the same scenario beyond his Game 2 start Thursday night against the Yankees.
With a three-man rotation against the Yankees, Radke would be in line to pitch Game 5 at Yankee Stadium next Monday. He might not necessarily be the No. 1 starter, but he's the top go-to veteran.
"Game 5 would be a short rest," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Tuesday, "and I would never do that to a kid like (Johan) Santana. Radke can do that if we go there. We are going to try to do this with our top three starters and come back with Santana, too."
They're also going to let the veteran Radke handle the pressure of a night game at Yankee Stadium. He's 3-9 against the Bronx Bombers, but a more reasonable 2-3 in five starts at their home park.
But like many good starters, he has a selective memory.
"No way he remembered that," Gardenhire said when asked if Radke remembered his first game at Yankee Stadium. "He doesn't remember two weeks ago. He's just a calm pitcher and he has a good time. He's a calm person, to say the least."
If he doesn't get emotional about facing the Yankees, he certainly won't be charged about not starting in Game 1.
"I don't think it was a surprise for Johan (Santana) to pitch the first game, first of all," He said. "Pitching the second game, it will be just like pitching any other game in the playoffs. For me, I'll go out there and pretend it's like Game 1."
His Game 1 assignment last season, a year ago to the day of his Game 2 start this year, was an endurance test. He allowed five Oakland runs in the first two innings but shut them down after that. Minnesota came back for a 7-5 win.
It was a microcosm of sorts for his 2003 season to come. Only the Blue Jays scored more runs off Radke in one of his starts than the seven the Yankees plated. Both of those starts came in April, leaving Radke with a 1-3 record before he won his next four starts. He lost just once over the season's second half, a stat which he credits to his mind.
"It's a lot of mental approach and mental preparation," Radke explained. "I felt like I made better pitches when I had to with guys in scoring position. I like that I had better offspeed pitches, too."
In many ways, he has the emotional control of his Game 2 counterpart. But Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte respects his pitching control, too.
"He's just a great control pitcher," Pettitte said. "Everything for most of us is location. He changes speeds great. He moves the ball around the strike zone and he's got playoff experience and he's been the top pitcher in that rotation."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.