Will Target Field favor hitters or pitchers?

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During pregame workouts Michael Cuddyer held court with the media here at Target Field and speculated that the Twins’ new ballpark will prove fairly neutral in terms of impacting run scoring.
That’s pretty difficult to tell after one season, let alone one game, but today at least a few well-stuck fly balls died in the gaps–especially to left and left-center–and the wind seemingly didn’t aid much of anything.
“It played pretty fair today,” manager Ron Gardenhire noted afterward while adding that the ball seemed to travel much better during this afternoon’s batting practice and the Twins’ two exhibition games against the Cardinals. “Some days the ball is really flying.”
Early on the Metrodome earned the “Homer Dome” nickname, but in recent years it actually suppressed power and perhaps played as much into the Twins’ organizational philosophies as the turf did. This year’s Twins lineup has tons of power, but for the most part having a ballpark that favored pitching and suppressed power–or was at least neutral–would likely be good news.
In addition to preferring good athletes with line-drive swings for position players, under pitching coach Rick Anderson the Twins have typically had a strike-throwing, fly-ball dominant staff. The dimensions here at Target Field lean slightly toward hitter-friendly, but there are no real quirks in the design aside from an overhang in right field and, for one game at least, the wind was on the pitchers’ side.

Photo of the Day: Colby Rasmus just wants to love on everybody

Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus hit a big home run last night to set off the scoring and to set the tone for the Astros.

After the game he spoke to Jeff Passan of Yahoo and voiced some nice perspective and maturity as well, acknowledging that his time and St. Louis and Toronto left him with a reputation that he’d rather not have follow him around forever, saying “I don’t want them to say Colby Rasmus was a piece of crap because he had all of this time and just wanted to be a douche. I just try to love on everybody.”

Fair. By the way, this is what Rasmus looked like either just before or just after telling reporters that he “just tries to love on everybody.”


Ready for some lovin’?

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.