10/04/2003 6:05 PM ET
Lohse receives no gifts from Yanks
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kyle Lohse wanted to wait until he finished work before celebrating his 25th birthday Saturday. The Yankees didn't give him any gifts.
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
"The win would've been the present," Lohse said after the Twins' 3-1 loss in Game 3 of their American League Division Series.
On many other nights, he would've had it. He handed a close game over to the Twins' vaunted bullpen, which shut down New York over the final four innings. But another October gem from Roger Clemens, plus an extra dose of patience from Yankees' hitters, left Lohse lamenting the few mistakes he made instead.
"Made one mistake to (Hideki) Matsui," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "He battled through some stuff. He kept them in the game. We had chances to win. We just didn't capitalize.
Lohse looked Rocket-like dominant after one inning. He was consistently hitting the mid-90s with his fastball, blowing away Derek Jeter and setting up Jason Giambi for an offspeed pitch for back-to-back strikeouts.
"You throw 94, 95, you throw it up in the zone, it's pretty tough to catch up with," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Lohse was thinking the same strategy in attacking Matsui in the second after Bernie Williams doubled.
"Mix fastballs in and out, go with offspeed stuff later," Lohse summarized. "That was the game plan. We just never got to it."
He lost a fastball up and over the plate to Matsui -- Lohse wanted it up and in -- and never got it back. Matsui deposited it 394 feet away in right field, off the facing of the private boxes. It was just the eighth home run Lohse has surrendered in 15 starts since the All-Star Break.
"It was high," Lohse said. "I'm surprised he hit it the way he did."
The way Clemens was going, that alone would've been enough for New York. But the ultra-aggressive Yankees waited him out for what became an insurance tally in the third.
Five of the six Yankees' hitters to come to the plate in the third went to 2-2 or 3-2 counts, using up 36 pitches from Lohse. None of the three hits he gave up went for extra bases.
Juan Rivera worked a full count on Lohse before earning an infield single, the first of Rivera's three hits on the afternoon. Lohse recovered to strike out Alfonso Soriano on five pitches.
But the most damaging shot might have come against Jeter, who fell behind 0-2 for the second straight at-bat. Instead of fanning on a 96 mile-an-hour heater, he fouled off two pitches to stay alive and left two balls alone. At 2-2, he lashed a ground ball back up the middle, moving Rivera into scoring position for the middle of the order.
"It was a battle out there today," Lohse said. "Every at-bat seemed like it dragged on. I couldn't get guys out early."
Lohse fell behind 2-0 on Giambi before escaping with a fly ball to center. Then, he went 1-2 on Bernie Williams, who followed with another single up the middle to score Rivera.
Then Jorge Posada fell behind 1-2. He, too, fouled off two pitches and worked back to a 2-2 count before striking out to end the inning.
Lohse didn't give up another hit in the fourth or fifth, but the Yankees' patience still wore on. He gave up a walk in each inning, both times on full counts. The last, to Bernie Williams in the fifth, came after getting ahead, 0-2.
"Kyle, I'm sure wouldn't say he was as sharp as he could've been," Pierzynski said. "He fell behind a lot of guys. But he made pitches and he kept us in the game. He only gave up three runs, that's not too bad.
"That's what the Yankees do They try to get you deep in the counts. They try to get to your bullpen, and our bullpen has been up to the challenge."
Lohse went through an 0-4 stretch leading into the All-Star Break because he tried to do too much. On Saturday, the Yankees chased him in part by making him throw too much. The 105 pitches marked the first time all season he went over 100 without lasting at least six innings. He had an eight-inning performance in June without topping 90 pitches.
Nobody likes working overtime on their birthday.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.