10/05/2003 6:50 PM ET
Twins' playoff ride ended by NY
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
Game 4 wrapup: Yankees 8, Twins 1
MINNEAPOLIS -- Like a debit card with a zero balance, the Twins had used up all their comebacks. They cashed in all of their rallies. No more wins after being written off for umpteenth time.
This time, the vault was closed. The season was really over.
Minnesota's hopes for another day ended Sunday when the Yankees handed out an 8-1 defeat in Game 4 of the American League Division Series.
After the Twins won Tuesday's Game 1 at Yankee Stadium, New York took three straight to claim the best-of-five series and advance to the AL Championship Series.
"I told our guys to keep their heads up," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "There were only four teams left in the American League, and we were one of them. We played all right. We played our hearts out."
The big inning came in the top of the fourth when New York sent 12 men to the plate and took a 6-0 lead against starter Johan Santana. It deflated the Twins and quickly took their Metrodome crowd of 55,875 fans out of the game.
"Just like that, we're out," said Santana, who also gave up six hits in his 3 2/3 innings. "Hopefully, [the Yankees] can go all the way through and win the World Series. For us, that's it. It's over. We have to think about next year."
"We just had a bad inning," said Shannon Stewart, who had one hit and made two great catches in the final game. "That just gave them a little breathing room. They were already smelling the kill."
The Twins lost back-to-back playoff games at the Metrodome for the first time in their history. It was also the first time they've ever dropped an elimination game there winning the previous five.
For the players on the two-time AL Central Division champions, it just means another denied opportunity to get to the World Series. Last season, they won the ALDS over Oakland in five games before dropping the ALCS to Anaheim, also in five games.
"Obviously, we want to go farther," said closer Eddie Guardado, who gave up a ninth-inning homer to Derek Jeter. "Everybody in this clubhouse plays the game for one purpose -- to go the World Series. Some day it's going to come."
Minnesota was able to snap its 0-13 regular season losing streak to New York with a 3-1 over Mike Mussina in the series' first game en route to a road split. The game featured spectacular pitching efforts from Santana and the bullpen and two key timely hits when it counted.
While the pitching remained strong for Game 2 and 3, the hitting took leave the remainder of the series against the formidable tandem of Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and David Wells, who was the Game 4 winner. Wells allowed one run on eight hits with five strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings.
Beyond Game 1, the Twins never seemed to put any rallies together with less than two outs. Overall for the series, they batted .198, .091 (2-for-22) with runners in scoring position.
"It's either good pitching or bad hitting," said third baseman Corey Koskie, who was 3-for-15 (.200) in the series. "Some reporters will say we had a feeble lineup. Some reporters will say they had great pitching."
The Twins' nine hits Sunday equaled their total from the previous two games combined.
"They pitched and they pitched," Gardenhire said. "Pettitte really shut us down in New York. Then they come down here and Roger was Roger. He pitched. The bottom line of the whole series was pitching by the Yankees, kind of dominated us. We really didn't get too much done offensively."
The abrupt ending to the season does not take away the accomplishments from a spectacular second-half by Minnesota. The club went into the All-Star break 44-49, 7 ½ games out of first place.
After the break, they finished with baseball's best second-half record at 46-23. A 19-7 September helped get the Twins into the playoffs.
"When we got down in the first half, they said we were out of it," Gardenhire said. "I think we played as good as anybody in the second half. Ran off (11) in a row at the end of the year to win a pennant. I'm proud of those guys. They played their tails off."
"We came back and ended up winning the division," said Torii Hunter, who batted a club best .429 in the series. "We had a chance to play the Yankees. It didn't work out, but we still have a story to tell -- a nice story to tell."
Only, it's one without the money ending they wanted.
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This report was not subject to the approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.