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Live Blogging: Twins @ A’s Game 43

May 18, 2011

9:47PM PDT: That ending stung. The thick air gives the Twins the win. Daric Barton just hit a ball that should’ve ended it, and likely would’ve most anywhere else, but… instead it is a warning track blast right in front of the 367 sign on the wall safely caught by Michael Cuddyer to secure a victory for the visiting Minnesotans. A’s lose, lose first place as well as the Rangers were 5-4 winners in Kansas City in eleven. The Angels currently trail the M’s in Seattle so if the M’s hold on, we still have claim to second place. So a tough loss, because it happened due to an error and the Twins did what you need to do which is take advantage. We do it again tomorrow when we have daytime baseball.

9:42PM PDT: Two quick outs so all comes down to Barton to fix this thing.

9:39PM PDT: So Fuentes and Barton collaborate to give the Twins a lead and now it is up to the 9-1-2 hitters to solve this, meaning Barton will have an opportunity like Trevor Plouffe did to correct his mistake. Twins’ closer Matt Capps comes in to try and shut it down for the Twins, he has nine shutdowns and only two meltdowns though isn’t a typical closer with just 5.6 K/9 and pinpoint control (0.5 BB/9). On balls in play hitters are only managing a .193 batting average, so it’d be nice to see that pendulum swing the other way tonight.

9:35PM PDT: Plouffe hits it out to David DeJesus and deep enough to score a tagging Young. Casilla advances to third on the play and the Twins take a late 4-3 lead.

9:34PM PDT: Don’t know if I support the idea of pitching to Plouffe here. Not thrilled with the prospect of bases loaded for Kubel mind you, but it is nice to have the force available. Kubel still hits a solid .265/.327/.388 off lefties.

9:31PM PDT: Daric Barton made a good play on the ball, but what a terrible throw. Looks like Fuentes sort of screened him on that and since I am a huge Barton fan and not sold on “closer” Fuentes, I blame Fuentes. Regardless it is trouble for the A’s as the leadoff hit by Delmon Young and screwed up defensive play on the Casilla sac bunt means runners on second and third with no one out for the Twinkies.

9:29PM PDT: Brian Fuentes comes in to pitch the tenth for Oakland. Andy LaRoche takes over for CoJax at third base, would’ve rather seen CoJax stay in there myself.

9:26PM PDT: Conor Jackson (pinch-hitting for Kouz) groundout means we have extra-innings. This will be the A’s tenth extra inning affair, so far they are 5-4 in the previous nine.

9:23PM PDT: It looks like Ellis got robbed on that strikeout, several bad calls in that sequence there. So it makes me wonder about the calibration of the “Pitch f/x machine” because has it like this with them being great calls – yet the overhead replay clearly showed the pitch off the plate:

9:21PM PDT: Kurt Suzuki looking to send everyone home happy with a double to get things started for the A’s. That’s followed by an intentional walk of Sweeney to create a force. Nathan’s body language – and I think I’ve said this before, because as a former closer its a big sort of issue – is so terrible. He always looks worried and nervous, always with these deep exhales and such. Not a quality I’d want in my closer – a quality unfortunately that Brian Fuentes also possesses though Fuentes’ squints make him look sort of intense, maybe?

9:17PM PDT: Twins have a new pitcher, it is Joe Nathan who no longer is the Twins closer but has now elevated his role from mop-up work to shared eighth inning set up guy – not that Minnesota has had too many leads to hold in 2011.

9:14PM PDT: CSNCalifornia just used this graphic of Hideki Matsui in front of the Dellums Federal Building. This is just hilarious to see on a professional broadcast for the “Due Up” title card.

9:07PM PDT: Balfour is out, Michael Wuertz is in for manager Bob Geren. Not sure why Geren only leaves Balfour in for just the one inning all the time – the A’s still don’t have a swingman who can eat up a few innings, but despite that he seldom leaves Balfour in for more than all of one inning. In his 57 outings in 2010, Joe Maddon used Balfour – then with the Rays – nine times in excess of an inning (15.8%), in 2009 out of his 74 appearances 20 were for more than an inning (27.0%). So far this season Balfour has 20 appearances (including tonight) and has pitched more than an inning in just three (15.0%).

9:00PM PDT: Glen Perkins comes in to pitch for Ron Gardenhire and his Minnesota Twins. Despite being a lefty, Perkins pitches both sides of the plate tough and has a career reverse platoon split which has been very pronounced both this year and last. Nice asset to have in the pen – a lefty who is great against right-handed hitters it should be noted that originally Perkins was a starter which makes this all make a bit more sense.

8:52PM PDT: Grant Balfour comes in to pitch – seems an inning too early if you ask me – McCarthy only had 91 pitches in his seven innings on the mound during which he allows three (earned) runs on nine hits with a lone strikeout. So McCarthy despite pitching well will again not earn a victory in this one, though his WPA shows he left the A’s where he started (which makes sense given it is a tied game) with a WPA of -.001 for the game. The Rangers have taken the lead 5-3 going into the bottom of the eleventh in Kansas City, here’s hoping the Royals who tied it in the bottom of the ninth on an Eric Hosmer home run can come back again and beat our fellow AL West first place mates.

8:47PM PDT: Ryan Sweeney with a leadoff hit here in the bottom of inning number seven. Sweeney comes into the game leading the club in wOBA (.366), wRC+ (137), batting average (.315) and on-base percentage (.403). However the problem with Sweeney has always been his power and this year is no different with his ISO being – for a corner outfielder  a low – .093. I’m a big Sweeney fan and figure his bat needs to be in the lineup, I see him as perhaps a starting center fielder for the 2012 A’s?

8:37PM PDT: Godzilla first-pitch swinging smacks it into right field to score Barton and this ballgame is tied!

8:33PM PDT: Lead-off double from Daric Barton. Good hit, nearly gets past Michael Cuddyer in right. I’d love to see Barton really get it together, really like the guy and he is a better hitter than he’s been hitting. Barton has been a -0.4 WAR player so far this year (entering tonight) which is the lowest on the club.

8:18PM PDT: Brandon McCarthy gets out of a jam in the top of the fifth. He’s allowed a lot of bloop singles and such, but hasn’t taken matters into his own hands at all with just the one K, fortunately the control is there no walks, good for a 2.53 FIP through five. Twinkies are hitting .400 on balls put in play right now. Pitch count is still reasonable despite the lack of lady luck and at only 67 pitches he isn’t at risk of an early exit due to the pitch count.

8:10PM PDT: Heck of a catch by Ben Revere in foul territory near the A’s bullpen. Ray Fosse makes a very good point though that Hideki Matsui was really far off the bag towards second and that on a foul play like that no matter what you should be close to first. Good point from Fosse, poor baserunning from Godzilla.

7:51PM PDT: Trevor Plouffe rights his wrong from the last half inning by driving in Casilla and Denard Span and giving the Twins the lead back. Twins lead 3-2.

7:49PM PDT: Alexi Casilla with a double as the Twins try to regain their lead. Second and third no one out. McCarthy has not been as sharp as he was to begin the year in his past few outings:

  K/9 BB/9 ERA
Last Four Starts 5.4 2.4 4.73
First Four Starts 6.0 0.9 2.10

7:43PM PDT: Kevin Kouzmanoff comes through and cashes in on the Twinkies miscue with a single that scores the two runners. The A’s take back the lead and are on top of the Twins 2-1. Good to see Oakland capitalizing on mistakes like that, this is the baseball equivalent of scoring off a turnover – when other teams walk you, make errors, you need to make them pay.

7:40PM PDT: Trevor Plouffe air mails Morneau so the A’s have something going here with Sweeney on third and Ellis on first. In his sort time at the MLB level this year, Plouffe has not been a sharp fielder (-93.9 UZR/150).

7:25PM PDT: Carl 3.4 K/9 Pavano strikes out Josh Willingham to end a 1-2-3 bottom of the first. I just don’t get why Willingham has changed so much in this strikeout machine. It seems the biggest change is in his SwStr% which this year is at 10.0% compared to a career average of 8.4%.

7:15PM PDT: Justin Morneau gets the Twinkies on the board with a single to right center past Mark Ellis to score Kubel. Minnesota 1, Oakland 0.

7:14PM PDT: Jason Kubel gets a double to left center. He is one of the few Twins hitting anything this season coming in with a .322/.380/.473 line. If the Twins continue to play as they are – or even if they just play .500 ball the rest of the way, Kubel could be someone we see being dangled out to other teams at the trade deadline.

7:06PM PDT: The sun is out! The Twins come in as the worst team in the American League with a 13-27 (.325) record. Not what they expected in the Twin Cities with the Twins having their first ever season with a nine-digit opening day payroll ($113,237,000). The Twins’ offense makes Oakland’s look like a bunch of batting champions, as a team they’re hitting .225/.291/.312 with a team ISO of .087 a wOBA of .276 and wRC+ of 72. Pitching for Minnesota will be Carl Pavano who has a very unimpressive series of stats including 3.4 K/9 to 2.7 BB/9 with a 5.89 ERA and 4.55 FIP. The A’s toss Brandon McCarthy out there who is the A’s official sore luck loser with a 1-4 record despite a 3.34 ERA and even better (and proof of even less luck) 2.41 FIP. His control has been very sharp (1.6 BB/9) and he doesn’t allow any long balls (0.2 HR/9). The A’s lineup is all the regulars except Ryan Sweeney who plays center field. He is sent to David DeJesus‘ normal number six spot in the lineup and DeJesus leads off.

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