Preparing for the unknown
Welcome to Oakland and McAfee Coliseum. It?s a typical Bay area day — mid-50s, the sky socked in with low clouds and wind. The flags in right have been blowing straight out, while the ones in left have been blowing right to left or not at all. A?s beat writer Mychael Urban tells me the Coliseum doesn?t play as big as most people think during the day, but with the weather less than ideal, it could play large as it does at night.
The playing surface, which the A?s share with the NFL?s Raiders, looks very nice in the infield, but not so nice in the outfield. The right- and left-field corners are fairly chewed up, as is a stretch from left to right across mid to deep center field. If it stays dry, it likely won?t be an issue, but if it rains, it could get messy. Thankfully, the forecast calls for clearing skies right around game time, with temps rising into the low 60s.
The setup for today?s game is simple: The A?s, who have lost nine consecutive clinching games, are looking to close out the series. Asked how he?s handling this differently than in the past to avoid a similar fate, A?s manager Ken Macha replied prior to today?s game: ?I am trying to avoid answering questions about Game 4. You’ve got to concentrate on the task at hand, so that’s what that has taught me.?
The Twins, on the other hand, are turning to veteran Brad Radke, possibly making the final start of his memorable career with the Twins, to get them to Game 4. If the Twins lose today, no one would be surprised if Radke announced his retirement after the game. Should Radke get the Twins to Game 4, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced prior to today?s game that Johan Santana would not make a start on short rest. Santana was experiencing some soreness, and Gardy said starting him ?simply was not the right thing to do.? So it?ll be on Carlos Silva, who has gone 2-1 with a 4.74 ERA in three starts against the A?s this season, to force a Game 5, if it comes to that.
Urban, for his part, has come prepared (as all experienced media members know to do) in clinch situations. A second shirt is a must, because no one is spared a champagne shower in a clinching clubhouse. The beat reporters spend a lot of time with the players over the course of a season, and sometimes several seasons, so they often become targets in there — most of the time in good fun, occasionally not. It?s all part of the job.
If the A?s clinch today, we are ready. Having suffered through nine consecutive, agonizing letdowns, is A?s Nation ready?
— Jim Banks / MLB.com