October 5, 2002
When The Dome is a rockin...
"But, like I said, we'll see what happens tomorrow.
The Twins showed that they could hit Hudson and, when healthy, Eric Milton is their best starting pitcher, especially against a team that struggles against lefties.
That's what I said after yesterday's loss.
And guess what?
The Twins beat up on Hudson (and Lilly) for the 2nd straight time.
Eric Milton showed that he is definintely healthy and shut down the A's lineup (more on that in a minute).
And there will be a game 5, tomorrow in Oakland.
I have been babbling for a while now about Oakland's lack of success against left-handed pitching and I have been saying that I thought the Twins should have started Johan Santana, along with Eric Milton, in this series, to take advantage of Oakland's struggles versus lefties.
Before today's game, with Milton on the mound for the Twins, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what each Oakland hitter did this season against lefties.
I have looked at their team performance against lefties, but never really checked it out batter by batter.
What I found had me feeling pretty confident heading into the game.
Oakland, as a team, hit .247/.319/.403 against lefties.
All three of those numbers ranked in the bottom half of the AL this season.
Those bad team numbers against lefties are actually sort of misleading.
Jeremy Giambi hit .327/.462/.462 in 52 at bats against lefties while he was still in Oakland.
Carlos Pena, in his brief stint as the future 1st baseman of the A's, hit .326/.385/.609 against left-handed pitching.
Against lefties this year, Giambi and Pena were the two most successful A's.
They totaled about 100 at bats and they are both no longer on the team.
The third best Oakland hitter against lefties this year was Olmedo Saenz, who hit .317/.366/.571 against them in 63 at bats.
Saenz tore his achilles tendon in game 1, so he won't be playing for the A's anytime soon.
So the 3 most successful Oakland hitters against lefties will not be making any further appearances for the A's this season.
And when you take out those 3 hitters (who combined for about 12% of the A's total at bats against lefties and certainly helped their "team" totals) you aren't left with very much as far as hitting lefties goes.
Eric Chavez .209/.263/.362
Terrence Long .250/.295/.378
Jermaine Dye .212/.304/.293
Scott Hatteberg .233/.333/.395
Ray Durham .255/.327/.366 (combined #s with OAK and CHW)
Ramon Hernandez .257/.325/.431
David Justice .257/.328/.362
Randy Velarde .162/.311/.297
John Mabry .217/.208/.391
Greg Myers .200/.259/.240
Eric Byrnes .279/.273/.395
Adam Piatt .233/.298/.442
Those are 12 out of the 15 hitters that the A's have on their playoff roster.
None of them had an on-base % over .333 against lefties and ten of them slugged under .400 against lefties.
So, Oakland's playoff roster includes those 12 guys, plus Saenz, who is out for the playoffs.
Which leaves 2 guys on the entire team this hit lefties well.
Miguel Tejada .285/.342/.518
Mark Ellis .296/.415/.481
You give me a good lefty starting pitcher against a team that includes only 2 guys that hit lefties well at all, and I like my chances.
Of course, it also helps when you score 11 runs!
What a 4th inning!
That was one of the most enjoyable 15 minutes of baseball watching that I have ever experienced.
Passed balls, wild pitches, throwing errors, I loved it.
And the Twins finally got some hits with men in scoring position.
11-2 Twins and the series is heading back to Oakland.
Like I said yesterday, youneverknow.
As the late, great Jack Buck said during Kirby Puckett's game 6 winning homer in the 1991 World Series, "And we'll see you...TOMORROW NIGHT!" (or at least tomorrow afternoon)
A few notes...
There were 55,932 people in the Metrodome for game 3, which was a new Metrodome playoff record.
Somehow they managed to fit 28 extra people in there for today's game, which had a crowd of 55,960.
My question is a two-parter:
1) Where did these extra 28 people sit?
2) Why couldn't they sit there yesterday too?
I am so sick of all the announcers and writers talking about how much the Metrodome roof is affecting everything.
I have watched almost every single Twins game for the past 5 years, either on TV or at the Metrodome, and I think all the talk about the roof causing so many mistakes is just dumb.
They make it seem like every single ball that is hit into the air automatically becomes the toughest play of all-time.
Meanwhile, during the course of 81 games during the regular season, hundreds and hundreds of balls are hit into the air at the Metrodome and somehow a few of them manage to find their way into someone's glove.
Everytime a bloop hit lands in between two fielders we are told that it was because "they couldn't find it" or "it got lost in the roof."
I say that's a load of crap.
I wouldn't mind it if they occasionally mentioned that The Dome roof made it a little harder to track fly balls, but the announcers are constantly pointing out that it is such a tremendous struggle to catch even the most routine pop up in The Dome.
And could they possible point out that is gets loud in the Dome a few thousand more times?
While I am picking on the announcers, I need to point out that ESPN announcer Rick Sutcliffe makes me want to stick sharp objects into my own ears.
He is just absolutely dreadful.
And even worse than just being horrible, he won't shut up!
One of the things that I hate most about many of the current baseball announcers is that they are so deathly afraid of a few seconds of silence during a game.
I tune into a baseball game to watch the game, not to hear a constant, running monologue by Rick Sutcliffe.
After a while, I think I just started tuning him out.
I did manage to catch a few of his more brilliant thoughts:
"The Twins get to play so many games on turf...the other team might only play 3 games all year on turf, and that makes a big difference."
See, I think his point was not a completely idiotic one.
I believe he is trying to say that the Twins are more equipped to play well on the turf because they play more games on it.
I know I am asking for trouble by actually paying attention to the details of what he says, but c'mon, the other teams might play 3 games a year on turf?
Hey Rick, have you ever heard of Toronto or Tampa Bay?
Just so everyone knows, the A's played 12 games (or almost 8% of their entire schedule) on turf this year.
And every single team in the American League played at least a dozen games on turf this year, with most playing more than 20.
Okay, so that one was picking nits (which is fun to do anyway).
This one really made me laugh (and cringe)...
"The playoffs are a lot different than the regular season for the home team. They don't just get tickets for their family, they have to actually arrange to get the tickets and they have to actually buy them. And you could tell that had an effect on the Twins in yesterday's game."
The good news for Twins fans was that the Twins were apparently able to bounce back from having to buy tickets for the second straight day and win the game.
A little later in the game, Sutcliffe said this beauty:
"When Barry Zito was a high school pitcher, Zito's dad SEEKED Rick Peterson (the A's pitching coach) out."
So not only does he say idiotic things all game, he can't even say them correctly!
Sutcliffe wasn't alone in the booth, he was 1/3 of the team that also included Tony Gwynn and Dave O'Brien.
I really have liked Tony Gwynn as an announcer this year and I think O'Brien is a decent play-by-play guy too, but I couldn't even tell you what they said today because I was so busy trying to make sense of Sutcliffe's constant rambling, bumbling crap.
I am telling you, he just will not shut his trap.
He has a condition that my mother refers to as "diarrhea of the mouth and constipation of the brain."
Not exactly the qualities you look for in a baseball announcer.
Game 5 tomorrow in Oakland.
Mark Mulder will be going on short rest (3 days) while Brad Radke will be on normal rest (4 days).
It probably won't make a difference, but I am hoping it will.
I am not real optimistic about the Twins' chances against Mulder, especially after what they did (or didn't do) against him in game 2.
On the bright side, the A's will have the severe disadvantage of having to arrange for tickets for their family and friends.
Right Mr. Sutcliffe?