All Things Baseball

A’s Put the HURT on Twins in Game 1

The 2006 MLB postseason got off to an exciting start today, with the Oakland Athletics facing the Minnesota Twins at the Metrodome.  The pitching matchup was intriguing, as both teams sent their ace lefties to the mound, with Barry Zito taking the hill for Oakland and Johan Santana countering for the Twins.  For awhile, this game was about the pitchers, but it wasn’t very long until a certain 38-year-old DH made his mark on Game 1. 

Frank Thomas

When the A’s signed Frank Thomas in the offseason, they did it because the lack of a power bat in the middle of the lineup was annually killing the team in the first round of the playoffs.  Let’s forget for a moment that Frank Thomas had a tremendous first season in Oakland after many years in Chicago, and look only at what he did for the Athletics today. 

In Game 1, facing perhaps the best pitcher in baseball at a ballpark in which the A’s have had trouble winning for several years, Frank Thomas went 3-for-4 with 2 crucial solo-homeruns.  His first blast came off Johan Santana in the 2nd inning, and his second against Jesse Crain to provide an infinitely important insurance run in the 9th — the Big Hurt was unstoppable on Tuesday afternoon.  To make Thomas’ performance even greater, it was the first time a player aged 38 or older homered twice in a postseason game. 

Shifting topics to what happened in the ALDS opener, Oakland won Game 1 because they played “A’s Brand Baseball”.  What do I mean by that?  Well, the first game was a pitchers’ duel and was decided by timely hitting.  In a slugfest, a team that focuses on pitching has no chance, so the trick for the A’s was to make it a low-scoring affair.  Barry Zito matched Johan Santana inning-for-inning and left the game with his team leading 2-1.  On the offensive side, the A’s out-hit Minnesota 7 to 5 (nearly half of Oakland’s hits came off Frank Thomas’ bat).  And it’s worth noting that even though Minnesota’s two errors made no difference, the A’s played fine defense throughout the game, making a couple of semi-WebGem-worthy playes.  Pitching and defense is “A’s Brand Baseball” and Oakland executed to perfection in Game 1.  Their reward: a 1-0 lead in the series, home-field advantage, and the knowledge that their opponent’s best pitcher won’t face them again until Game 5. 

Somewhere, Billy Beane is telling his critics, “see, you can win in the playoffs playing my type of baseball”. 


Today’s trivia question is at the end of my previous post: Managers of the Year


One Response to “A’s Put the HURT on Twins in Game 1”

  1. As a Twins fan, I found it very disheartening to see my team get beat at home in its playoffs opener. They better wake up, or this thing could be over soon.

    By the way, what do you think is the likelihood of Johan Santana coming back on 3-days rest to pitch Game 4 (if necessary and if the Twins are down in the series)? You wrote that he wouldn’t come back until Game 5, but I think the Twins will have reservations about pitching Matt Garza in Game 4 if they are down in the series.

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