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AL: Twins forced to try to outfox Mulder

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times
published October 6, 2002


MINNEAPOLIS -- The A's have the homefield advantage and the experience. But the biggest edge they have in today's fifth and deciding game may be starting pitcher Mark Mulder.

The Oakland left-hander is 4-2 with a 2.16 ERA in regular-season games against Minnesota and dominated the Twins in Game 2 of this series last week.

"Everything points to Mark being the right guy," third baseman Eric Chavez said. "He's come up with so many big performances for us."

Mulder was 19-7 this season a year after leading the AL with 21 wins, but he will be starting on three days' rest for the first time as a pro. Until Anaheim's Jarrod Washburn won Saturday night, the past 15 pitchers working on three days' rest in the postseason had failed to win, including teammate Tim Hudson.

"I don't have a problem with it," Mulder said. "With the adrenaline that gets going for the playoffs, it's not going to make a bit of difference whether it's two days or three days or four days."

The Twins, while confident in their own ace, Brad Radke, know not to get overconfident.

"They're probably not too worried with Mark Mulder on the mound," Minnesota's Doug Mientkiewicz said. "I wouldn't be too worried with Mark Mulder on the mound. He's beat us like 400 times in a row. Maybe he'll let us win one."

POINTED MESSAGE: Mientkiewicz's seventh-inning homer didn't mean much in the game, but it apparently meant something to his wife, Jodi, as he pointed to her in the stands.

"My wife's losing her mind," said Mientkiewicz, a member of the 2000 U.S. Olympic team. "She gets stressed out and she gets fever blisters. She's got one now. She had one during the Olympics. I don't think she can take much more of this."

MONKEY BUSINESS: When the rally monkey jumps, Angels fans go ape.

The silly video of a bouncing chimp in an Angels uniform is flashed on the giant screen when Anaheim is trailing and the fans, many with stuffed simians draped around their neck, amp up the cheering volume.

Making his Anaheim debut on a whim by the Angels staff during a game two years ago, the rally monkey has become a phenomenon at home games.

Not accorded official mascot status, the rally monkey still may have eclipsed Mickey Mouse as Anaheim's most popular furred celebrity.

After the initial video seemed to amuse fans, the Angels had more videos made featuring antics by a trained monkey with some movie experience.

Asked about playing in Anaheim, the Yankees' Derek Jeter chuckled and said, "Talking about that darned monkey, huh? That rally monkey? It's a fun atmosphere."

The video monkey has proven to be a good-luck charm, going 27-11 this season in games when the Angels trailed. In Game 3 of the division series against the Yankees, Anaheim fell behind 6-1, the monkey danced, and the Angels stormed back to win 9-6.

OBITUARY: Don Wells, the original voice of the Angels franchise and longtime radio broadcaster, died Thursday in Switzerland after a long illness. He was 79.

"He was part of Angel history and one of the premier broadcasters in the history of this organization," said Tim Mead, Angels vice president for communications.

A Sacramento native, Mr. Wells covered the Angels from their expansion 1961 season through 1972.

MISCELLANY: The Twins' seven-run fourth was a record for runs in an inning in a division series game. But it lasted only about three hours, because the Angels scored eight runs in the fifth inning of their game. ... The A's are 1-5 in games that could clinch a division series.

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