"Target Field could very well be the AL version of Petco"

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Thumbnail image for target-field-100407.jpgThat’s the verdict of a Yale physicist who deftly notes that it’s colder outside at night in Minneapolis than it is inside the dome and a sabermetrician who has studied the effects of cold air on the trajectory of baseballs and has noted a few interesting things about the prevailing winds in Minnesota.

But like I said the other day, this stuff is just way too premature. No one knows what’s going to happen in a ballpark until a team plays in it. Yankee Stadium v.3 was supposed to play just like v.2 did and it didn’t in its first year. AT&T park was supposed to substantially favor hitters.  Yes, I know there is some science behind the predictions here, but my dad was a meteorologist for 40 years and he’ll be the first one to tell you that predictions that are based, at least in part, on prevailing winds are rendered mostly meaningless once you, you know, put a bunch of buildings in front of those winds.  He’ll also tell you that those guys on your local TV news “Storm Team” who freak out every time a snowflake falls need should be taken out and shot for desensitizing the public to legitimate severe weather warnings, but that’s another post.

I will close by noting that both Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer have more home runs and higher career slugging percentages away from the old dome than in it, and those include a lot of games in a big cold park in Detroit. Upshot: don’t worry your pretty little heads about it, Twins fans.

UPDATE: For a bonus look at outdoor baseball in Minnesota — a look way, way back in time, actually — check out The Daily Something today.  Great stuff.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.