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Trip report, August 22, Minnesota Twins at Oakland

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#1 ashburyjohn

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:07 PM

Rightly or wrongly, I'm posting this as a new thread rather than
add to the game-day thread.

My son and I made the trek down from Lake Tahoe to see the
Minnesota Twins play in Oakland in an afternoon getaway-day
game, which the Twins lost 5-1 on a three-hitter; guess
either they or the umpires had a plane to catch. Here are
a few observations and highlights. I don't get to see the
Twins enough in person, so a lot of what I have to say
arises from that.

- From a Twins fan perspective it was a dreary game, but the
event itself was really enjoyable. I do not understand the
hatred for Oakland's Coliseum; yes it's a mixed-use stadium,
but having spent far too many days and evenings in the old
Metrodome I have an appreciation for outdoor baseball in a
town where the weather is almost always pleasant; it was
sunny at 12:37 for the first pitch, temperature around 70
or 75 with typical low humidity. I have had much worse
experiences in Wrigley and Fenway than I have ever had in
Oakland, after probably 10-15 visits by now. Plus, instead
of struggling to get tickets, you call up and ask what time
the game is, and they ask what time you can be there. :)
Thirty dollars buys a seat behind home plate about 20 rows
up and just slightly on the first base side, just a walk-up
sale. (Parking is $17 though. Sheesh.)

- Foul ball: came about the closest to a foul ball I ever
have. Bounced two rows above us, was retrieved by the guy
sitting next to my son, and he handed it to the kid behind
us who had almost come up with it. Usually I'm too cheap
and sit farther from the action.

- Florimon: a really nice play by the Twins' callup from
Rochester, laying out to his right to snare a grounder by
the A's catcher Kottaras and then getting the throw over
to first in time to get the out. Didn't make the Web Gems
for the night, and it's a play that commonly gets made, but
it was a major league play nonetheless and hardly routine.
He later was charged with an error on a 3-6-1 attempt at
a double play, but the back end of that play was goofed up
with the pitcher (Robertson) late in covering, and I'm not
sure whether Mauer's throw from first was textbook or not,
so someone had to get the error and Florimon's throw was
the clearest one to charge it to. An older Florimon probably
just eats the ball after making the forceout at second;
I don't hold this play against him, though Gardy might.

- A's defense: four errors for the game. It was laughable,
with dropped pop flies and a ball through the shortstop's legs
and a bobble transferring from the glove for a throw from
the outfield. A terrible black mark for the Twins not to
capitalize; their only run was actually an earned run in the
second, after a popup by Doumit fell in for a "hit" (E3 for
a fifth error in my book) and an RBI groundout to short by
Butera, who proves that sometimes it pays not to hit the
ball too hard.

- Florimon, again: he came into the game with a gaudy batting
average in 5 games but against a good pitcher like Milone he
looked like a minor leaguer. As the old saying goes, you
shake the Baseball Tree and about 9 gloves fall out for every
1 bat. It's right to pick up guys like Florimon and Mastroianni
on waivers because you sure don't want to have to trade for
someone like them, even though as I said above I'm optimistic
about Pedro's defense. If his offense is a little better than
I saw, he can be a proper replacement for Casilla as the utility
guy.

- Mauer: playing first base (after only DH'ing in the game
the night before?), he also made a quite nice diving play or
two, to his left, and generally looks comfortable playing there.
I'd sure love to see him at third, except that Plouffe has dibs
there at the moment.

- Plouffe: I didn't see Plouffe at short last year to understand
what knock Gardenhire (and many many others) had on Plouffe's play
at short - must have been to do with the pivot - but he definitely
looked like a shortstop at third base to me, and I don't mean
that in a "fish out of water" way. I was wrong also about
Chipper Jones and his ability to hold down a shortstop job,
twenty years ago when I saw him in the International League
championship game, so don't hire me as a scout. If Trevor
can be a third baseman with some percentage of Jones's success
it'll be all right with me.

- Hendricks: Frustrating. I wonder if he's tipping his pitches -
it didn't seem like the off-speed pitches were fooling the batters.
The exception was his fifth (and final) inning, where suddenly
his command seemed a lot better and he was getting better results,
through the heart of the A's order; Reddick fouled off several
tough pitches just barely getting wood on the ball before working
a walk (and then getting nailed trying to steal), and Liam struck
out Cespedes on a pitch in the dirt and then got Carter to center.
Too bad if he couldn't bring his best stuff in the first inning -
that's a bad trait for any pitcher, starter or reliever.

- Revere and Willingham: speaking of getting guys out in center,
Revere certainly looks very good out there. A base was taken on
his arm, but maybe not many other CFers would have gotten the
runner at third on that particular play. And he went back and
got a couple of balls that probably were par for the course in
the majors but still required some skill. By contrast, our stone
statue in left, though we love him to pieces at bat, let at least
one ball fall in for a base hit in front of him, and a double to
the wall would have been a nice challenge for Revere had he been
playing there - I felt it could have been snared for a Web Gem.
Unfortunately Ben isn't capable of playing two positions at once -
or maybe we don't know because the rules of baseball don't allow
it. Unfortunately, like the rest of the team, Ben didn't show
me much more at bat than I thought coming in.

- Burnett: I thought Alex looked really good, and his results
showed it (4-3, strikeout looking, popup caught in right). In a
season where the Twins have had so much trouble with the starting
staff, I don't know why Burnett hasn't been given consideration
for a few starts. Like a lot of relievers, he was a starter in
the minors when at some point he was converted. He's a big strong
looking guy and he seems like someone who should be able to go six
if asked (you'd have to stretch him out via longer stints, at the
present time of course).

- Other Twins pitchers: Robertson's delivery bugs me, seems like
a shoulder surgery just waiting to happen, and as noted above he
also flunked his spring-training pop quiz on covering first.
Fien did his job but I think depends on location for any success
and will never be more than a mid-inning reliever. Perkins looked
good - I am not on the Perkins-for-closer bandwagon but he certainly
seemed like he's got every aspect of his game buttoned down at
present.

- Tommy Milone: he's a good pitcher who was on a bad streak, and
the Twins sure helped him get well. We listened to the A's post
game show on the radio and he was interviewed - I wish the Twins
had been forced to listen to an opponent talking about "having fun"
and "feeling comfortable out there". Like a lot of lefties, he
had a good move to first that flirted with the balk rule but
safely stayed on the good side of it; the Twins didn't have many
baserunners but when they did I played the game of trying to guess
whether the pitcher was going to first or to home and he really
didn't give me much clue.

- Seth Smith: speaking of comfortable... this lefty crowds the
plate like no one I recall seeing recently. I of course don't
want beanball wars, but felt the need to explain to my son who Sal
Maglie was and how he got his nickname: Smith desperately needed
a fastball under his chin, sorry to say. But Butera and Hendricks
(and Burnett and then Perkins) were content to allow it and had
good success, resulting in 0-4 on this day.

#2 powrwrap

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:24 PM

Thanks for the report. From what I've seen of it, admittedly only a handful of games, I really like Florimon's defense as well. I used to be down on Revere's arm but I've seen him make some decent throws lately.
[FONT=comic sans ms][COLOR=#000000]"Baseball is like church. Many attend, few understand." [/COLOR][/FONT]

#3 CDog

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:39 PM

I can't speak for anyone else, but my dislike for the Oakland park certainly has nothing to do with the Metrodome. Saying it's better than that is pretty faint praise! In fact, I've often described it as a lot like the Dome, if you cut the roof off old HHH. Granted, that difference alone--especially in California--puts it miles ahead. But it's still a space where the playing area seems like an afterthought and doesn't quite "fit," and the concourses are a sea of concrete without much to add aesthetics.

I would think that the smaller crowds actually help with one aspect that I didn't enjoy on my times there: that the better attendance made for the addition of an element that didn't make me all that comfortable. My first time was with a group of 8 or 10 guys and whenever one or two would leave the group for any length of time, there was on every single occasion a near "incident" with some belligerent folks. My second time was with a female co-worker and she commented that she would definitely not feel comfortable if she was there with just another girlfriend or even a group of women.

Having said all that, though, it is still a major league park that hosts major league baseball games, and that alone is worth plenty and enough to give a pretty good chance to have a good time.

#4 ashburyjohn

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 03:50 PM

Thanks for the report. From what I've seen of it, admittedly only a handful of games, I really like Florimon's defense as well. I used to be down on Revere's arm but I've seen him make some decent throws lately.


There was only one throw in earnest from Ben, the one I mentioned, and he kind of floated it to the shortstop. Still, that's a lot better than the only other memory I have of him on TV, two-hopping it last year from right-center to a cutoff man who had already come out pretty deep. It's in keeping with the reports I had seen this season.

#5 NoCal

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 05:03 PM

Thank you for the report - I was at the game also, and agree with all of your observations, including an appreciation for the Coliseum. One other thing - Plouffe hit the ball hard a couple of times, and seems to be getting more comfortable at the plate. After Carson's double (and there is another guy who is at least showing some ability to take advantage of an opportunity), Plouffe hit a drive to left directly at Cespedes, but it was hit so hard that the runner at third had no chance to even think of tagging and scoring (and Doumit is not exactly a burner). Trevor has some power in his swing, suggesting that he can be a more realistic threat than Valencia was.

Hendricks was frustrating, as he just could not capitalize on this new opportunity. His release point seemed to lack consistency at times, and he was behind too many hitters; but he did battle through his struggles and show some quality, especially in the fifth inning, as you mentioned. And it is a game of inches - two run-scoring hits were literally inches from Casilla's glove; another problem revealed - Alexis is too short.

Also, one other observation from this West Coast swing - Oakland and Seattle have a bunch of good pitchers.

#6 ashburyjohn

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 06:40 PM

I would think that the smaller crowds actually help with one aspect that I didn't enjoy on my times there: that the better attendance made for the addition of an element that didn't make me all that comfortable.


Wow, yes. If Raider Nation :) chooses to show up at a game, that would be a big negative for me too. I don't always shell out the big bucks for $30 seats, and still I haven't encountered what you did. But maybe my daughter would tell me some tales, if she's gone to other games there.

One time many years ago, I was actually the lout there at the Coliseum. It was back when Eddie Guardado was on the Twins, and I thought I was being amusing when I groaned a little loudly "oh no, not Eddie Guano" when he was called in to pitch. A guy a couple rows down from me turned around and said "you know, the players' wives are right down there", gesturing a few rows in front of him. Whether he was right or not, I slunk down in my seat for the rest of the game. OK, so that's pretty weak tea compared to what you've seen there. :)

#7 ashburyjohn

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 08:56 PM

[quote name='NoCal']Thank you for the report - I was at the game also, [/QUOTE]

Where were you sitting? You should have waved or something.

[quote name='NoCal']One other thing - Plouffe hit the ball hard a couple of times, and seems to be getting more comfortable at the plate. [/QUOTE]

As if I hadn't written enough already... but yeah, if I had done another round of proofreading I might have remembered that I commented to my son that during Plouffe's early stretch where he hit .150 it was said he was getting good swings and this looked like another such period. OTOH, another poster in tonight's game thread says that Plouffe hasn't looked good since he came back from the thumb injury - he's seen more games than I have, no doubt, and there's plenty of room for opinion here.

[quote name='NoCal']another problem revealed - Alexis is too short.[/QUOTE]

Now, that's some fine detective work there, Lou. :)

[quote name='NoCal']Also, one other observation from this West Coast swing - Oakland and Seattle have a bunch of good pitchers.[/QUOTE]

Y....eah. Yeah they do.