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Live Blogging: A’s @ Twins Game 7

April 8, 2011

5:41PM CDT: The Twins win 2-1. One quick note about the play, with the count 3-2 David DeJesus was running but Justin Morneau did a good job of standing in his blind spot a bit before backing up assume a normal fielding position, and had Matsui come through that would’ve held up DeJesus perhaps preventing him from scoring on a double. Smart baseball from Morneau. Needless to say it looks like Brett Anderson pitched one inning too long, really can’t fault him much as he goes eight innings allowing two runs on eight hits, while walking none and striking out five in the complete game effort. Ultimately the blame rests with the A’s hitters who could not get to Carl Pavano or Joe Nathan, but particularly against Pavano when they had men in scoring position and failed to come through. Tough loss and I am beginning to have some misgivings about the offense now, let’s see if they can put something together during the rest of the weekend though Target Field is certainly not the place to try and do that.

5:37PM CDT: Willingham is down on strikes. All comes down to Hideki Matsui. Nathan is throwing his fastball 92-93. Pretty much what he was at in 2009, a bit down from the 94-95 he was at in the mid 2000’s.

5:35PM CDT: There we go. DeJesus (who I assume will be credited with a hit making it 23 straight games against the Twinkies with a hit) gets on. Willingham can not ground into a double play. Absolutely can not do that.

5:33PM CDT: Barton fouled off a few pitches that were balls before grounding to second. Two outs to make something happen.

5:30PM CDT: Three outs to go. Gardenhire goes to Joe Nathan. I love how Nathan blows his lips like that, to me that is body language that says I am nervous (though I realize he always does that).

5:27PM CDT: If the A’s go on to tie this, they have to thank Josh Willingham. Great play getting to that ball and ending the inning.

5:25PM CDT: There’s your difference right there Twins 2-of-3 with RISP, A’s are 0-for-7. Mauer’s single plates pinch runner Matt Tolbert and the Twins lead it 2-1. This was the problem last year for the A’s at Minnesota when they went 1-for-13 with RISP last September at Target Field.

5:24PM CDT: Base hit by Span ties it. Now the real dangerous part of the Twins lineup comes up Mauer, Morneau and Young…

5:22PM CDT: Pinch hitting for Alexi Casilla, Jason Kubel gets a base hit to right. So with two outs, the Twinkies have guys on the corners with Denard Span coming up. Span is fast enough he could try some cute suicide squeeze stuff. It’ll be interesting to see if Ron Gardenhire goes that route.

5:20PM CDT: Glen Kuiper has the overreaction of the day. Luke Hughes hit that ball well, don’t get me wrong because he hit it well, but the “that’s going to be trouble!” was pretty funny when the camera goes and shows that Josh Willingham is playing him deep (no doubles) and barely has to move. Two outs.

5:15PM CDT: Brett Anderson is coming in to pitch the eight, only eighty-five pitches. He has been great today, he isn’t flashy or electrifying like some guys but he really gets the job done.

5:11PM CDT: It was interesting in the shot they show of Coco off first how you can watch his eyes follow both the pitcher and the first baseman looking for reactions. It was clear he wasn’t too comfortable out there as he was leaning back and forth, and Carl Pavano has certainly shown he is going to really pitch it in there even on pick offs (wonder what the speed is on these, certainly not the soft tosses a lot of other pitchers use), and Coco obviously couldn’t tell if Pavano was pitching to the plate or to Justin Morneau at first and gets picked off.

5:02PM CDT: Mark Ellis is such an underrated second baseman. He always gets so much on his throws even middair. This guy deserves a Gold Glove more so than most of the recipients. Get’s the A’s out of the inning after seven, still 1-0 Oakland.

4:58PM CDT: Good defense from David DeJesus. His getting to that ball in the corner held Delmon Young to a single, most of the time I can’t see how that wouldn’t be a double.

4:45PM CDT: Sharp double play by Barton there that makes up for the earlier two lapses. Brett Anderson is looking great, need to get a few insurance runs and seal this deal. Daytime baseball!

4:43PM CDT: Gotta agree with Glen and Ray about Daric Barton ranging way too far to his right and needing to leave some of these plays to Ellis. Denard Span gets on with a bunt following that other infield hit earlier when Justin Morneau got a weird infield single due to Barton’s aggressiveness.

4:28PM CDT: Anderson freezes Jim Thome (who wears his socks like they should be worn) great pitch, fourth K for Anderson and eleven in a row retired.

4:19PM CDT: Mark Ellis in his 1001st game in an A’s uniform, gets himself a double. Let’s see if Kevin Kouzmanoff can drive him home, this is to me the beauty of having Kouz hit eighth.

4:17PM CDT: Another solid inning from Brett Anderson as he strikes out Michael Cuddyer. Fifty pitches through four innings, no walks, three strikeouts. Good outing so far, another tight pitching duel. That aggressive running is the sort of thing that allows you to win games like this.

3:55PM CDT: Nice jump by Cliff Pennington to steal second. Normally, commensurate with my Moneyball fandom, I think stolen bases are not worth the risk. The thing is, in Coco Crisp and Pennington we have very smart basestealers (Rajai Davis really was a fine smart and opportunistic baserunner as well). When you have guys like this they change the dimensions of the game, not only is the actual stolen base itself valuable, but furthermore I think there is a true psychological value in the sense that the pitcher’s focus can shift too dramatically to the runner on base as opposed to dealing with the batter at hand. That is valuable for generating offense and doesn’t show up in the box score or in advanced stats necessarily – I suppose one could measure the effect, though I am not sure what shows that the pitcher is rattled. I’d assume if you looked at a ratio of balls to strikes with a stolen base threat on that could be indicative of a pitcher losing focus on the hitter if it differed significantly from his normal ratio? A change in their style of pitching, more fastballs fewer breaking pitches? Not sure exactly, but I feel there’d be a noted difference with very good stolen base guys on.

3:42PM CDT: Wow! Big news, Manny Ramirez has retired as he failed another drug test and would have been subject to a 100 games suspension. This has to really hurt the Rays. They originally had a situation where they had a steal one could imagine with Manny Ramirez at $2M, a now Manny has decided to retire instead of face the music. Shocking news.

3:28PM CDT: That was a pretty cool shot they showed of Nishioka before the game bowing before meeting Matsui. I’ve heard that Matsui is a legend in Japan and it seemed like Nishioka was very excited to have the chance to meet him, kinda a cool moment and reminds you that this is still just a game. Twins get out of the inning, A’s 1, Twinkies 0.

3:25PM CDT: Taking advantage of opportunities allowed that run to score. Pavano walks Barton, Barton advanced when Joe Mauer lets a ball go back to the screen, a misthrow from Pavano and Barton advances to third, then a sac fly from David DeJesus. It isn’t something you can necessarily bank on but this sort of aggressiveness is why we won yesterday so it is good to keep it up.

3:23PM CDT: Wow, Daric Barton was really almost picked off there. Pavano threw that just a little too far down the third base line. Impressive how he threw that with conviction, almost like Pavano flipped and pitched it to second. Good job to advance to third.

3:19PM CDT: Looks like we are getting a good view today going back to my post about the dead-center camera. Nice to see this on the CSNCalifornia broadcast. Also I love these old school style Twinkies jerseys, very nice looking.

3:07PM CDT: Turns out today is the eight anniversary of Hideki Matsui‘s debut when he got his first MLB home run – a grand slam no less – off of these very same Minnesota Twins. Let’s hope he can have a repeat performance today.

2:59PM CDT: Mere minutes away from the start at Target Field. The pitching matchup is Carl Pavano and Brett Anderson, Pavano really got tagged by Blue Jays pitching in his last start while Anderson was solid in his outing against Seattle. A’s lineup is the same as the opening day lineup. Big change for the Twinkies is the absence of Tsuyoshi Nishioka who broke his leg yesterday when Nick Swisher slid hard (but cleanly) into second base. So the Luke Hughes era begins today in Minneapolis as the Twinkies host their home opener.

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