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All Things Baseball

Oakland Sweeps Defenseless Twins

We all knew coming into the ALDS between the Oakland Athletics and Minnesota Twins that it would be a tough battle decided by pitching. Very few people could have predicted that the A’s would sweep the Twins. Just think about what that entailed…

  • The A’s win 2 games at the Metrodome where Oakland has consistently struggled
  • The A’s beat Johan Santana; the best pitcher in baseball and a shoo-in for the AL Cy Young award
  • The A’s win a playoff series for the first time since 1990

No chance, right? Well apparently there was a chance, if Oakland executed “A’s Brand Baseball” to perfection.

We’ll focus on Game 3, since that was today’s game, and the clincher in the series.

The A’s needed Danny Haren to bounce back from a rough stretch today

In their bid to sweep Minnesota, the A’s sent righthander Danny Haren to the mound, to face Twins’ veteran Brad Radke. Haren outpitched Radke, allowing 2 runs on 9 hits and a walk, over 6 innings of solid work, and picking up his first career playoff victory. Radke took the loss, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) on 5 hits and a walk in 4 innings marred with inconsistency, and made worse by the Twins’ defensive woes (more on that later). Radke allowed two homeruns to Eric Chavez and Milton Bradley, which accounted for the 3 earned runs he surrendered, while Danny Haren struggled against Torii Hunter, allowing the Twins’ centerfielder a solo homerun and a double.

Huston Street put the game on ice for the A’s

The bullpen’s were not extremely sharp in this game, just as they were somewhat shaky in both of the games at Minnesota. The A’s first reliever, Justin Duchscherer, allowed a solo blast to Justin Morneau, though Duke retired the rest of the batters he faced in 2 innings of work. Huston Street allowed 2 hits in the final frame, but the A’s were well ahead by then, so the no-stress factor helped Street escape the 9th inning without allowing a run.

Dennys Reyes and the Twins bullpen allowed 3 runs … all of them unearned
The Twins bullpen, on the other hand, was hurt by Radke’s short outing, and thrashed by all kinds of defensive miscues made behind them (as I said, more on that later). Glen Perkins and Juan Rincon kept the A’s scoreless in the 5th and 6th innings, though Perkins was in all kinds of trouble after allowing 2 hits and getting just one out in the 5th. Dennys Reyes got 2 outs in the 7th inning, but he walked two hitters, and both came around to score due to an error by Justin Morneau. Jesse Crain retired one A’s batter, while allowing 2 unearned runs (also due to the Morneau miscue), on a hit and a walk. Matt Guerrier pitched a perfect 8th, but it was much too late to matter.

Eric Chavez hit a solo homerun to get the A’s offense going

The A’s outscored the Twins 8-3 in this game — what’s incredible, is that Oakland did that while being out-hit 12-8. Sure, Eric Chavez and Milton Bradley both hit solo homeruns, but that’s just 1/4th of the runs the A’s scored. How did the other runs score? That’s still coming up as soon as I get to the defense. The Twins’ offense was led by Torii Hunter, who went 2-for-3 with a solo shot and a double. Justin Morneau and Rondell White each added 3 hits to boost the Twins offense; amazingly, the Twins only scored 3 runs on 12 hits and a walk — they stranded 7 runners in the game.

We all know about his bat, but Justin Morneau’s glovework needs improvement

Defense was the main reason the A’s swept the Twins in the ALDS. In Game 3 alone, the Twins made 3 critical errors, which gifted the A’s 5 unearned runs. Notice that the difference in the score (8-3) was those 5 runs, which means that had Minnesota played perfect defense, the Twins might very well have averted the sweep. Brad Radke, Justin Morneau, and Jason Bartlett were all guilty of a “boo-boo”, and although Bartlett’s error was meaningless, it added to the clear defensive disadvantage the Twins faced in this series. Minnesota didn’t pitch or hit a whole lot worse than Oakland in this series; the main difference in the ALDS was that the A’s played defense, while the Twins looked defenseless.

Game 3 Pitchers of Record

W: Danny Haren

L: Brad Radke

My pick for the series MVP: Frank Thomas (Thomas hit .500 in the Series with a couple of homeruns to lead the A’s in Game 1)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BOTTOM LINE: The A’s swept the Twins because they executed “A’s Brand” Baseball/Beane-ball/Modified Moneyball perfectly.  

Somewhere, Billy Beane, Michael Lewis (author of Moneyball), and whoever invented the phrase “A’s Brand Baseball” are smiling.  
_______________________________________________________________
Trivia Time!

Yesterday’s question was…

Marcus Thames made his MLB debut on 6/10/2002 for the Yankees. During that game, he became the 17th player in MLB history (at that time) to do what?

The correct answer…

Marcus Thames became the 17th player in MLB history to hit a homerun in his first career at-bat

Here’s today’s question…

The last time the A’s won the World Series was 1989, when they swept the Giants in the Series that was delayed 10 days because of the earthquake at the beginning of Game 3. The delay allowed both teams to use just 2 starting pitchers in the Series. Can you name both of Oakland’s starters?

Hint: one of them was the MVP of that World Series

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