Saturday, September 6, 2014

A night at Target Field

Oswaldo Arcia was charged with an
error in the fourth inning on a ball hit
by Kole Calhoun that resulted in a run
for the visiting Angels.
Here's one bright side to the Twins' low status: Good tickets can be had reasonably on the resale market.

My wife and I darted up to Target Field with lower-deck home plate box seats. We didn't make it through the entire 10-inning, four-and-a-half hour game; it may have been a Friday night, but there was a long drive home and things to do today too. So we missed Trevor Plouffe's game-tying double with two outs in the ninth -- and Jared Burton surrendering the winning run in the 10th.

A few observations, on and off the playing field:

* Danny Santana got the start at shortstop. In the second inning, with a man on first, Brennan Boesch hit a one-hopper just to Santana's right; he tried, a bit awkwardly I thought, to backhand the ball only to have it go off his glove. I marked it an error on my scorecard; the official scorer ruled it a hit.

Still, it was a play I expect a major league shortstop to make; indeed, it was a ball I expect a major league shortstop to turn into a double play. The failure to make that play resulted in a run.

That was the extent of Santana's defensive involvement for four innings. He had four routine plays in the fifth and sixth inning and cleaned them all up.

*Aaron Hicks had a pair of two-out RBI base hits -- left-handed, his weaker side. He's hitting over .200 now.

*Josmil Pinto had a pair of doubles and a walk and scored twice (on those Hicks hits). He also had a passed ball and saw a pair of Angels steal second, although I'm inclined to blame the pitchers more for those steals. Terry Ryan said when they recalled Pinto that his defense had improved; it's hard for me to see the difference.

* Oswaldo Arcia had an impressive home run in the second inning. And in the fourth inning he had an outfielding misadventure (see photo) that cost the Twins a run. Actually, he had another misplay of a ball off the wall in the first inning -- rule a triple rather than a double and error -- that led to yet another run. The slugger giveth and he taketh away, and on the whole in this game, he gaveth too much to the Angels.

* Ricky Nolasco wasn't particularly good, but as you've noticed already, his defense didn't help him much. He went five innings and allowed three runs, two earned; with spotless defense behind him, no runs score. He struck out five and only walked one.

That's the glass half full. On the other hand, he didn't have a one-two-three inning (the fourth would have been had Arcia corralled the Calhoun drive), and the Angels had the leadoff man on in four of the five innings, so he spent most of his time pitching out of the stretch. The misplays didn't put all those leadoff men on, they just moved them along the route home.

* Matt Shoemaker, who started for the Halos, has had a fine season (14-4, 3.14 coming into the game with 115 strikeouts in 117 innings), but he struggled to throw strikes in this one. He threw a lot of offspeed and breaking stuff and only got through four innings. I wasn't impressed, but he's obviously been better.

* This game marked my first encounter with the much-praised rib tips from the Butcher and the Boar stand (near Gate 34). They are not over-rated. Between that and my addiction to the Kramarczuk bratwurst, my carnivore cravings were more than satisfied.

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