MLB PlayoffsMark Kotsay hit an inside-the-park home run to lift the Oakland Athletics over the Minnesota Twins 5-2 and lead their Major League Baseball playoff series 2-0 on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, in the National League, the New York Mets defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 in Game 1.
Oakland starter Esteban Loaiza slipped in the sixth inning, surrendering consecutive solo homers to Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau that evened the score with Minnesota at 2-2.
But with Jason Kendall on first base, two outs in the seventh and reliever Dennys Reyes pitching, Kotsay hit what should have been a single. Gold Glove center fielder Torii Hunter charged forward and dived but badly missed the ball which rolled to the wall. Kotsay raced all the way around to give Oakland a 4-2 lead.
Twins rookie Boof Bonser struck out three in six innings, giving up two runs and seven hits. Sidearmer Pat Neshek, who took the loss, started the seventh before yielding to Reyes.
The series shifts west for Game 3 today, with Minnesota's Brad Radke taking his broken shoulder socket to the mound for possibly the final time of his 12-year career. Dan Haren, in his first playoff start, will pitch for Oakland.
While the Twins have lost seven straight at home in the postseason since Game 1 of the 2002 American League championship series, the A's have their own demons: They're 0-9 in elimination games since 2000, losing four straight first-round series.
Mets 6, Dodgers 5
At New York, the Mets got dynamic playoff debuts from Carlos Delgado and David Wright to jump ahead of Los Angeles.
Back in the playoffs for the first time since 2000, the Mets capitalized on a wild baserunning blunder by Los Angeles and a perfectly respectable performance from emergency starter John Maine.
Playing in the first playoff game of his 14-year career, Delgado had four hits, a mammoth homer and the go-ahead RBI in the seventh inning. Wright drove in three runs, helping the Mets take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Maine, who replaced an injured Orlando Hernandez with less than 24 hours' notice, was lifted with a 2-1 lead in the fifth after throwing 80 pitches, and got a break on a bizarre play when the Dodgers had two runners cut down at home plate in the second. Jeff Kent was nailed trying to beat the throw in from right field, and while catcher Paul Lo Duca tagged him, J.D. Drew thought he could sneak in.
Marlon Anderson rallied the Dodgers in the seventh with a bunt single. Rafael Furcal's RBI single made it 4-2, and Nomar Garciaparra's two-out, two-run double tied it.
Game 2 was yesterday, with Taiwanese rookie Kuo Hong-chih (郭泓志) on the mound for the Dodgers against 290-game winner Tom Glavine. Kuo pitched six shutout innings at Shea Stadium on Sept. 8 for his only major league win.
Hernandez is expected to sit out the entire playoffs with a calf injury, dealing a second blow to the New York Mets' pitching staff.
Last week, the Mets announced three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez was out until next summer because of calf and shoulder injuries.
Hernandez, who has four World Series rings, has a torn muscle in his right calf and was left off New York's first-round roster, leaving the National League East division champions without two of their top starters for their first appearance in the playoffs since 2000.