By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 14, 2002
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Twins, when you get right down to it, were happy to be here.
This forever will be known as the team that beat contraction, and playing for the league championship with all the distractions it had, along with one of the league's youngest teams and lowest payrolls, was an amazing accomplishment.
But that still didn't make defeat any easier to take.
"We've got to get older," All-Star outfielder Torii Hunter said. "We've got to play smarter. Now we know what it takes because we've tasted it."
The Twins made a season of aggressive offense, tidy defense and stellar pitching, keeping games close and winning at the end. Against the Angels, especially Sunday, it wasn't enough.
"We couldn't stop them," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "No matter who we put out there, we could not stop them. Everybody that went in there gave up hits and runs, and that's just not been us all year."
FAMILIAR FACES: The Angels brought back three big names for ceremonial first-pitch honors -- Jim Fregosi, Bobby Knoop and Buck Rodgers -- and they certainly enjoyed the view.
"Two weeks ago I was in Montreal to throw out the first pitch and it seemed like the last game in the history of the franchise," Rodgers said. "It's just the opposite here. This franchise is really coming on strong. (General manager Bill Stoneman) and (manager) Mike Scioscia have done a tremendous job. The fans are alive again. There's a lot of press eating crow. This kind of vindicates all of us."
THE SINGING COWBOY: The Angels said they were joined in spirit by original owner Gene Autry, who died in 1998. "I know Mr. Autry was smiling down on us today," Tim Salmon said.
"I know he would have been proud of these players," said Jackie Autry, his widow.
OH, BY THE WAY: Fregosi said talk of him heading to San Francisco as a replacement for manager Dusty Baker was "all speculation. Dusty should stay in San Francisco. He's well liked and that's a good place for him."
MISCELLANY: This was the first time since the 1985 start of the best-of-seven championship series format that a team lost the opener and won four straight. ... Adam Kennedy's 13 total bases were an ALCS record. ... Rookie reliever Francisco Rodriguez got the win, his AL record-tying fourth of the postseason. ... When the Twins scored in the first, it was the first time they led since Game 1. ... The Twins bullpen allowed 16 runs, 19 hits and eight walks in 122/3 innings.