10/04/2003 3:24 PM ET
No dome advantage in Game 3
Lohse outdueled by a vintage Rocket
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Game 3 wrapup: NY 3, MIN 1
MINNEAPOLIS -- Win or go home. Not an envious position for the Twins, but at least it's a familiar one.
Minnesota finds itself in this situation, again, after dropping a 3-1 decision to the Yankees on Saturday in Game 3 of the American League Division Series before 55,915 fans at the Metrodome.
New York has taken a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series and can advance to the AL Championship Series with a victory in Sunday's Game 4 or if necessary, a Game 5 on Monday.
"We have to win two in a row," first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz said. "It starts tomorrow."
"Now you've just got to bow your neck and go at it," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Yankees starter Roger Clemens (1-0) helped put the Twins on the verge of elimination with seven strong innings. A.J. Pierzynski's home run in the third was the lone Minnesota run scored off the 41-year-old, who allowed five hits and a walk with six strikeouts.
"We've put ourselves in a good position," Clemens said. "We're going to have to come here and do it again. That's the bottom line."
Minnesota's Kyle Lohse (0-1) gave up three runs on six hits over five innings with two walks and three strikeouts. In an impressive first inning, Lohse fanned two out of the first three batters he faced. He struck out Derek Jeter with a rising 96-mph fastball. He then offered four straight and overpowering fastballs to Jason Giambi before setting him down with an 87-mph offspeed pitch.
The momentum shifted in the top of the second. Bernie Williams hit a leadoff double before Hideki Matsui came to the plate with one out. Lohse offered a high first-pitch fastball, which Matsui jumped on for an upper deck home run and a 2-0 Yankees lead.
"It wasn't exactly the location that I wanted," said Lohse, who was pitching on his 25th birthday. "But it wasn't exactly a pitch you expect to be hit out. It was up. He must have been looking for something over the plate."
The Twins were still hitless against Clemens when Williams extended New York's lead to 3-0 with an RBI single to center field off Lohse in the top of the third. Pierzynski led off Minnesota's half of the inning and slugged a full-count pitch over the wall in right field to narrow the deficit to two runs.
"It's nice to hit a home run, but it didn't mean anything," Pierzynski said. "At the time, it got us back into the game. But, you like to home runs with guys on base and in wins."
Minnesota had otherwise limited chances to get to Clemens. With runners on first and third with two outs in the fifth, Gardenhire lifted second baseman Luis Rivas, in favor of rookie pinch-hitter Michael Ryan. Rivas was hitless in the ALDS, but the move didn't pay off when Ryan struck out.
In the sixth, Doug Mientkiewicz led off with a single to and went to second on Williams' fielding error in center field. That was the final hit for the Twins. Clemens retired the next six in a row over his two final innings.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera retired six straight for his second two-inning save of the series to put the Twins in a must-win situation.
"You never like to be down in a hole," said Kenny Rogers, who pitched 1 1/3 innings in relief of Lohse and struck out the side in the sixth. "But we're still here and we still have a chance to win a ballgame. Tomorrow is big."
Minnesota will look to Game 1 starter Johan Santana to go in Game 4. Santana will be going against veteran lefty David Wells, who pitched a complete game at the Metrodome in the regular season.
"Nobody is panicking," said DH Matthew LeCroy, who was 0-for-4 Saturday. "Hopefully, we can play a good ballgame. Santana is one of our best pitchers and hopefully we can jump on Wells a little bit."
Favoring the Twins historically is a 5-0 record at the Metrodome when facing playoff elimination. But they only need to look to last year for inspiration.
In the 2002 ALDS, the Oakland A's took Game 3 in Minnesota to go up 2-1 in the series. The Twins won Game 4, 11-2, before going back to Oakland for Game 5 and winning, 5-4.
"That's the first thing we said when we came up here," Mientkiewicz said. "We were in this situation last year and came out on top. We knew this wasn't going to be easy."
The Twins have battled elimination, of sorts, even during the regular season. They dropped eight in a row to fall to 44-49 and 7½ games out of first at the All-Star Break. On the verge of implosion for the season and written off, they rallied back to have baseball's best second half and won the AL Central.
When needing big wins the past two years, the Twins have often clung to their underdog role like Linus to his blanket. They did it vs. Oakland and may have to dig deeper against New York.
"We've been there before against a very good pitching staff in Oakland," Mientkiewicz said. "When you looked at our record against those guys, no one gave us chance there. We've got our work cut out for us but we don't feel like we're out of it by any means."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This report was not subject to the approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.