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Live Blogging: A’s @ Twins Game 8

April 9, 2011

9:17PM CDT: Fuentes does it! Have to give him credit. Phew! A’s win 1-0 and improve to 3-5 on this young season. This is the first time the A’s have won the second game of the season, and it is also the first nighttime victory, I am certain (and there better be) plenty more of these in the weeks and months to come. So great outing by Gio Gonzalez who again ends a losing skid improving to 2-0 – best pitcher on the team, I am telling you, you’ve read it here first.

9:14PM CDT: He gets Valencia to pop out. The righty Hughes to the plate…

9:12PM CDT: So, the LOOGY so far has failed to get out the righty, and got out the lefty. Isn’t that how it is supposed to work? Isn’t that why you avoid using LOOGYs against righties? Valencia (R) up, Luke Hughes (R) on deck… ugh…

9:06PM CDT: 1-2-3 inning for Mijares. Go to the ninth up 1-0, Fuentes headed out. Michael Cuddyer (R), Jason Kubel (L) and Danny Valencia (R) due up to face the LOOGY/closer Brian Fuentes.

9:01PM CDT: Twins burn another pitcher as Jose Mijares takes the mound. The A’s need to get an insurance run. This offensive production is pathetic and the Twins relievers, and as earlier stated the two starters the Twins have thrown up for the first two games, are not particularly impressive, no excuse to have next to no runs.

8:57PM CDT: Fuentes gets out of the inning. Now, does Geren go back to him in the ninth? Is he still “the closer” even with a five out save?

8:50PM CDT: Base hit for Joe Mauer. Now with one out, Mauer on first, Morneau up, in comes Brian Fuentes

8:46PM CDT: I guess Balfour’s seventh inning was efficient enough that he is able to go another inning. Glad to see it. I am very worried about seeing Brian Fuentes coming into close this thing out however. Still need to get through the eighth with the 1-2-3 hitters up so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

8:40PM CDT: Matt Capps is in to the game and so is Matt Tolbert at shortstop. The Twins still have three guys left in their bullpen, though in a very tight game they have burned through quite a few pitchers now.

8:37PM CDT: This is what I’ve been waiting to see from Balfour! Strikes out the side. Getting Jim Thome looking. Dominant inning. This is why I think he has closer material. Great, great, great appearance. Not so confident with whomever could possibly come next… (gulp)

8:32PM CDT: Grant Balfour takes the hill for the A’s, so it appears we are going the piecemeal route. Last pitch Balfour threw was deposited into the A’s bullpen in Toronto for a loss. Though that may make it sound like I am not high on Balfour, I really actually feel more confident with him than most in the pen right now – which maybe isn’t saying much?

8:29PM CDT: Hughes does what he needed to do striking out Hideki Matsui and getting Kurt Suzuki to line out. They now are 3-for-18 with RISP this series. Remember however that none of those three hits have actually driven in a run. The runs have scored on an error and yesterday on a sac fly. This is simply intolerable, not sure what you do to fix this exactly but it clearly is a problem.

8:22PM CDT: Josh Willingham walks to load the bases with one out (they absolutely need to capitalize on this and score some runs). Gardenhire now goes to the pen yet again, this time to southpaw Dusty Hughes. I stress it continually but this is why high pitch counts are important, you get into these soft bullpens, very few teams have very good to above average bullpens. If these pitchers were that good they’d be closers or starters. These middle relievers, the longer you face them, in theory the more you should score. I realize that didn’t happen in Toronto, in particular in the first game, but of time it does bear out.

8:18PM CDT: Perkins is run from the game (by two hits – apparently Gardenhire doesn’t have too much confidence in him?) and now Alex Burnett is in. Burnett is the guy who was called up from Rochester when Slowey was placed on the disabled list.

8:12PM CDT: I love Daric Barton‘s “are you sure that was a strike?” type look before taking first on that Perkins walk.

8:09PM CDT: It would seem that Gio Gonzalez‘ night is through – I gather than from the jacket, Bob Geren‘s handshakes, “good job kid” looking arm around the shoulder. Nick Blackburn‘s night is through as well, as Glen Perkins is on the hill for the Twins. It’ll be interesting to see how our bullpen is used and how they hold up. I’d love to see Tyson Ross go two innings or something, I just don’t feel so hot about the piecemeal approach right now even if it is a pitcher an inning. Coming into the game Gio’s highest ERA versus any AL team was the Twins (10.61), but that is mostly an effect of his June 20, 2009 start against Minnesota in Oakland when in 2 2/3 innings he allowed 11 earned runs (the A’s of course would improbably go onto win that game 14-13).

9:03PM CDT: Justin Morneau is still recovering from his concussion – and I get that the sample size is still small – but he seems out of his element. He is 5-for-26 (.192) no home runs. I wonder if it truly makes sense to hit him third at this point?

8:53PM CDT: Run scored on an error. We’ll take it! Seeing my previous comment: bizarro game indeed.

8:51PM CDT: Ellis triples (sort of), now Kurt Suzuki steals a base, next strange occurrence maybe? please? A’s score a run?

8:50PM CDT: I’m glad Ray Fosse made this remark. Glen Kuiper talked about how the A’s haven’t scored in almost fourteen straight innings, and Fosse said “the Twins have good pitching, but it’s not like they’re facing Felix Hernandez out there”. Fantastic point. Carl Pavano‘s career/2010 FIP is 4.17/4.02 and Nick Blackburn‘s is 4.59/5.07, these aren’t shut down guys.

7:45PM CDT: Thankfully, Gio Gonzalez appears just to have misstepped (phew!)  and with Joe Mauer‘s ground out gets out of a very touch-and-go fifth inning. Still locked up at zero apiece.

7:43PM CDT: Infield ground out of Alexi Casilla and an infield pop out of Denard Span. That’s how to work out of a mess like this!

7:40PM CDT: The A’s have quite a messy jam to work out of now. Hughes lines it to left, and Danny Valencia moving on the pitch gets to third. Nobody is out. Not easy to get out of this sort of mess, unless you use Tony LaRussa‘s five man infield of yesterday’s game between the Giants and Cardinals yesterday (not recommending that and even with such a move still a tough spot to edge out of).

7:24PM CDT: The two-out walk to Delmon Young on a 3-2 count comes back to haunt Gio Gonzalez a little bit now as Michael Cuddyer singles (off of DeJesus’ face it looks like) and now there are men on first and third two out.

7:18PM CDT: The emphatic call from the home plate umpire Tom Hallion on the Joe Mauer strikeout was nuts. I bet these guys are getting pretty peeved at sort of being shown up like that.

7:14PM CDT: Great defensive play by Luke Hughes recovering to get the out and get the Twinkies out of the inning. Another great pitching duel shaping up. Need to score some runs!

7:12PM CDT: Steinbach is pretty good, he’d be a good guy to have in the broadcast booth, he has some good insights.

7:09PM CDT: Steinbach is commenting about Joe Mauer and getting his bat into the lineup and that if he is catching everyday he can only play in 125 games or so. I wish Bob Geren would change the way he uses Kurt Suzuki who has started every one of the A’s games this season at backstop. He is going to wear this poor kid out before too long. I don’t want to see Landon Powell in the lineup, but would rather have him in the lineup to keep Zook healthy than to not have Zook at all.

7:08PM CDT: Pretty cool, the guys have Terry Steinbach in the booth. It is interesting hearing from him about how he was converted from third base to catcher because Mark McGwire was going to play third base for the A’s. Its pretty amazing how solid a catcher he was given that he never caught in the minors or even before as an amateur. Can’t be an easy transition, but it just shows the high level of a lot of these athletes.

6:38PM CDT: Apparently they changed the call on Mark Ellis‘ triple, it is now a three base error on Denard Span. Bad call, that wasn’t an easy catch by any means for Span with how far he had to range. Here and in Toronto there’ve been a ton of weird scoring rulings. Terrible work. Hire me MLB!

6:34PM CDT: Mark Ellis with his first triple since August 14, 2008 246 games ago, and what does Kevin Kouzmanoff do on the next pitch? A first pitch ground out. Great. RISP problems continue.

6:15PM CDT: Delmon Young throws out Barton at the plate. Finally we get a hit with RISP, but it was a great toss from Young and you can’t really fault Barton for trying, it’d have taken a good play from Young and Young brought a good play.

6:11PM CDT: The Twins play pretty solid fundamental baseball. David DeJesus grounds it to the pitcher Blackburn, and Blackburn looks Daric Barton back first before throwing to first. It is little things like that that can earn you a win, because had he not looked him back and Barton advances, he is a wild pitch or, (as happened yesterday) a sac fly away from a run.

6:00PM CDT: The A’s put Gio Gonzalez (who I think will be this year’s true stopper) on the mound against the Twinkies’ offering of Nick Blackburn – who I feel is the worst of Minnesota’s pitching options. Earlier today they had to place one of their better options, who had been in the bullpen, in the name of Kevin Slowey on the 15-day disabled list. For the A’s, Gio looked great against the M’s last weekend in Oakland and hopefully the Miami native can succeed in the cold Minneapolis air tonight. The lineup is unchanged from the one yesterday that failed to really produce.

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