Live Playoff Blog: Twins Vs. A's, Game One

Well, all right, we did this last year, so let's rev it up again. We know you're stuck at work while there's a freaking playoff game on, and we know that, at times like this, the MLB GameCast isn't quite enough.

So, here we are, preparing for the playoffs to begin. We're taking a deep breath, because we forget just how long October really is. We're about to be very worn out. And this is the beginning of it.

It's the Oakland A's vs the Minnesota Twins. You've seen the predictions, so it's probably time for this thing to just start already.

Your pitching matchup is Johan Santana for the Twins and Barry Zito for the A's.

And your live blog begins after the jump. Play along with us in the comments, and email us if you have anything you want to add. Enjoy.

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Bottom Of The Ninth

So we're really just blown away that we're about to do a live-blog about a Cardinals playoff game that Chris Berman is broadcasting. We are absolutely asking Gawker Media for a raise ... this is sadistic.

Wow: So Milton Bradley is absolutely going to fucking kill the Metrodome roof later. Michael Cuddyer hit a dopey flyball to right field, but Bradley never saw the ball. It landed in for a triple. Justin Morneau does Bradley a favor by hitting a ridiculous line drive right at him; one out, Cuddyer does not score.

That second homer for Thomas looks nice right now: Hunter just grounded out to score Cuddyer, but there's two out for ... jesus, is Rondell White up again?

A fly ball to center ... that's it! Pretty monster win for the A's, beating Santana and taking home-field. A reader who's had the Metrodome right now sends us this report:

"its pretty bad when you're at a playoff game and you want to leave early because your manager has gone brain dead once again when the playoffs start. lets recount his mistakes so far...

- starting nevin over tyner (a "pirahna" that gets on base a lot at the bottom of the order)
- running jesse "I give up first batter hits" crain out there against the hurt but then not trusting him against something call scutaro.
- not moving runners over
- having a guy with no knees try to steal early
- many more

omg the roof still works"

But not enough, friend. Some Billy Beane shit just worked. And now ... half hour until the Cardinals and Berman. Awesome

FINAL: OAKLAND 3, MINNESOTA 2

Top Of The Ninth

Jesse Crain, who runs one hell of a business journal, is in for Santana, whose supposed dominance has been neutralized already.

And then Frank Thomas, who is downright disgusting right now, hits a huge homer deep into left, and now it's 3-1. That was a pretty tough pitch to hit, actually. And Huston Street looks on from the odd Metrodome bullpen.

Joe Morgan always sounds so sad when he says things like, "That's just the way The Game is now." Oooh ... he's about to go on an anti-A's rant! He's attributing their new success — that is to say, the fact that they're "currently winning" — to Ken Macha. If this is 3-1 Twins, it would be because of the terrible fundamentals. But you knew that.

Nick Swisher shows off those fundamentals by drilling a double off the Hefty. That's all for Jesse Crain and his business journal. Reliever Neschek guy gets a strike out, and to the bottom of the ninth we go!

NEWS FLASH, KIDS: The broadcaster for the Cardinals-Padres game is .... CHRIS BERMAN!

How did he even get there from Philadelphia so fast?

Jesus.

A's 3, Twins 1

Bottom Of The Eighth

Jason Bartlett more than makes up for his muffed double play earlier by drilling a double into left field, and here we go. Zito's looking tired, and Justin Duscherscherscherscher is warming up. But we're not ready for that now. Why? Because it's PUNTOBER!

Ooh: Bartlett was just about picked off second base, which would have been an even worse error than his actual error. Wethinks Mr. Bartlett is kind of nervous about this playoff business. Luis Castillo picks a bad time to not reach base, grounding out to third and not moving the runner over. One out.

Ha. Bartlett just almost made another stupid running mistake, inexplicably stopping in between second and third on a grounder to second. He's going to wet himself any second.

Joe Mauer flies to left, and it's still a one-run game. That's probably it for Zito too. He doesn't have that dumb blonde streak in his hair anymore, does he?

A's 2, Twins 1

Top Of The Eighth

Jason Kendall is so slow. One out. You know, we'd like to take a moment to admire Joe Morgan's restraint in not mentioning Billy Beane yet. You know it's just killing him.

Nick Punto just made our first highlight film play, jumping aginst the wall left-field foul wall and making the catch while getting his spikes caught in a batting practice screen and having about three beers spilled on him. Do you think he'll change his uniform? Or will he just play with the stink of beer on him.

Someone ruins it with a sign that says Puntober. You know, in baseball, every month is Poontober.

A's 2, Twins 1

Bottom Of The Seventh

We haven't commented on the site about this, but we absolutely do not understand these Holiday Inn commercials with Joe Buck. How are these supposed to persuade us to sleep in a Holiday Inn? Joe Buck is actually the least annoying person in those commericals, and it's not even close. Even if the commercials were funny — they're not — we still wouldn't even slightly get the point. Our least favorite is the bizarre one about the guy who wants to touch Buck's throat when he talks. Seriously. That's a hotel commercial.

Zito zips through the first two guys, but then Rondell White gets all crazy on us and hammers a high fastball over the left-field wall, and it's 2-1. No extra innings! Cards at 4!

Phil Nevin, who is making more than $10 million this year and was once almost traded for Ken Griffey Jr., pops out, and it's a one-run game.

A's 2, Twins 1

Top Of The Seventh

To clarify: Earlier we thought that the C in the Twins stood for "Club." The reasoning behind this, which know seems idiotic, was that it was, like, "The Minnesota Twins Baseball Club" or something like that, and it was a holdover from a time when people wore monocles. Obviously, this was very wrong, and we're, well, we're kind of fucking stupid sometimes. Excuse our French.

Frank Thomas singled to right field and just about got thrown out at first base. He was jogging toward the end, because he's old and fat, and it almost cost him, as they say. We wonder if Frank Thomas has ever dived into first. We doubt it.

Jason Bartlett just made an error that could cause all kinds of trouble; Eric Chavez hit an easy double play ball right to him, and he muffed it. Nobody out now, rather than two. A's could absolutely bust this open.

OK, Joe Morgan is awful. He has decided that the fact that Johan Santana patted Bartlett on the back after his error somehow makes him some sort of champion hero or something. We can't quite do the "observation"justice. With one out, Swisher, on a 2-0 pitch, swung and miss on a patented mean-and-nasty changeup that was such a great pitch that Swisher actually started laughing. He gets his revenge by working a walk, and now the bases are loaded for former Brooklyn Cyclone Marco Scutaro.

And he almost does, ripping a line drive to center that's caught by Torii Hunter. If any human other than Frank Thomas were on third base, it's a run. But Frank Thomas is on third base, and he almost got thrown out on a single to right. Bases loaded for Mark Ellis. He falls behind 0-2 but works it back to a full count ... and here we go ... dopey little fly ball to left, it's caught, it's still 2-0.

A's 2, Twins 0

Bottom Of The Sixth

Zito's curveball is so cool. It always looks like a ball to us, even when it's in the strike zone. The chubby Castillo reaches for the third time today with a one-out single. The crowd wakes up. We still remember, when we lived in St. Louis, when the Twins were offering season tickets for $98. For $98, it almost seemed worthwhile to get the tickets but still live in St. Louis.

Joe Mauer, with two outs, shows bunt but misses the pitch. We know that Mauer is supposedly dating some model or something, but we never understand how baseball players "date" anyone. What, she's hanging around Minneapolis? She's waiting for him to call from road trips? Doubt it. For six months out of the year, baseball players, single and married, are dating no one and they are dating no one. Everyone is aware of this, yes?

Mauer walks, and the tying run is at first with two out. Michael Cuddyer, if that's his REAL NAME, grounds to short to end the inning, and it's 2:33 and we're in the seventh inning.

A's 2, Twins 0

Top Of The Sixth

This just in: The "C" stands for cities: Twin Cities. Good to know!

You know, at this rate, we're actually going to have time to use the bathroom between games. Which is nice. Because that's important.

A reader writes in about Rondell White and Phil Nevin:

"Lest your commenters question the venerable Ron Gardenhire's managing, Phil Nevin and Rondell White have good track records against Zito—clearly the best of any on the Twins' roster. Zito has an excellent history against the current Twins' lineup. I was worried about the matchup before, and now I'm afraid that we have no hope as long as Zito is in this game.

Nevin is 5/17 with 3HR's
White is 5/14."

Oh ... so THAT'S why they're on the team.

Jason Kendall flies out to center for the first out. Mark Kotsay is about to strike out for the third time today ... nope! He actually singles, first guy in 11 to reach.

Hey, look, Erin Andrews is here! Hi, Erin! This game has so quickly that she hasn't had time to do any "reporting." And then Milton Bradley grounds into a double-play, and she doesn't even get to finish her sentence. We're really paying any attention anyway. Human interest thing .... I was talking to so-and-so before the game ... the key is the ... sorry, we blacked out again.

A's 2, Twins 0

Bottom Of The Fifth

It's Ken Macha's turn to talk to Miller and Morgan. He looks like a muppet. Though sometimes we think all older men look like muppets. We might have some issues there.

Justin Morneau hits the ball the hardest that any Twin has hit it today, but Mark Kotsay makes a running catch in deep center for the first out. Toriiiiiiiiii Hunter had a much better year than we thought he did. To think we used to confuse him with Jacque Jones. He pops out to center, and there's two down, and we're realizing that LOTS of A's have idiotic necklaces.

If you had Rondell White in the "who breaks up the no-hitter pool?" well, you win. And you have extremely silly pools. It's a double to right, and here's Phil Nevin, who is the DH because putting him in the field is just being mean. This is his first postseason game. We think he's more a factor in that than simple luck.

Hey, look, he popped out. Home run in an elevator shaft!

A's 2, Twins 0

Top Of The Fifth

You realize it's only 2:10, right? We're already almost halfway through. This is like a Greg Maddux game. Santana gets Swisher to pop out, and Scutaro to ground back to him, and we think he might have done it with one pitch.

Little help from anyone who knows (and we're sure someone does): Is the "C" in the Twins hat supposed to stand for "Club?" Because that's dumb.

Groundout. Five pitches. Ten in a row down for Santana. There should almost be a discount for fans.

A's 2, Twins 0

Bottom Of The Fourth

Luis Castillo earns his second walk of the game and is bunted to second by Nick Punto, who idiotically dives into first base. (Something we agree with Joe Morgan on!)

At this point we should probably mention that Zito is throwing a no-hitter. Jay Mariotti would probably think we personally jinxed him there.

Joe Mauer keeps the no-hitter going by grounding out to second. Michael Cuddyer, who has a profoundly stupid name and somewhat less stupid but still stupid face, pops a flyball to left, and that's all. Zito has thrown more balls than strikes and still has a no-hitter. We love the Twins.

A's 2, Twins 0

Top Of The Fourth

Frank Thomas just misses his second homer: He curved it just foul. Frank Thomas is still pretty big. Does he still have that stupid earring? Anyway, he flies to right for the first out.

Santana then strikes another guy out, and then the inning's over in seven pitches, and we didn't even have time to write more than this because this is the most number of words we can type in seven pitches.

A's 2, Twins 0

Bottom Of The Third

Morgan and Miller are interviewing Twins manager Ron Gardenhire in the dugout. We cannot imagine how much managers must hate this. It has to be their least favorite part of having games on ESPN, along with "having to listen to Berman make rhymes about my name for an hour." Gardenhire is much more polite about this than we might be. Can you imagine them doing this to Bobby Knight? Fly out by Rondell White, who is still alive.

Wait ... the Twins start Phil Nevin? We will confess that we did not know this. This is the playoffs, correct? Phil Nevin, right? Starting.

Twins shortstop Jason Bartlett has the 90210 sideburns, which is kind of sweet, really. He flies out to center, and this game is flying by. More time for Cardinals baseball!

A's 2, Twins 0

Top Of The Third

Santana just struck out Jason Kendall again. We know Kendall gets on base and everything, but for a guy who has played with Pittsburgh and Oakland, it sure seems like people talk a lot more about him than perhaps he's earned. Is he really good pals with Gammons or something?

Kotsay goes down, so that's now six strikeouts for Santana, which are fascist. Funny stat: Santana's last 21 strikeouts have been swinging strikeouts. We're not sure what that stat means, really, but we're still oddly intrigued by it. And now Milton Bradley grounds out to short, and zip zip zip.

A's 2, Twins 0

Bottom Of The Second

While waiting for this live blog to just UPDATE ALREADY — we swear, we're writing this in real time; the Gawker servers are just taking a lifetime to get things moving. By the time you see this sentence, it'll be Thursday.

And Zito looks awesome, dispatching the Twins with eight pitches.

A's 2, Twins 0

Top Of The Second

We know it has been a year and a half now, but we will never stop finding it amusing that Frank Thomas was beamed in via satellite during the Congressional steroid hearings — featuring Mike Foley, by the way — and no one remembered that he was there. He just sat there, a head on a screen, bored. And he takes out his frustration by pounding a changeup over the left field wall, and we have our first run of the playoffs.

Eric Chavez is wearing a ridiculous green necklace thing; honestly, no athletes have worse fashion sense than baseball players. Probably because so many are white. Anyway, Chavez becomes Santana's third strikeout victim, if you can call such an event worth of "victim" status.

Jay Payton doinks — we would argue that a bat hitting a ball is the only sound in sports than can be conceivably called a "doink" — a single to center field. We can never figure out if Jay Payton is any good or not. Nick Swisher flies out to center field, but then Marco Scutaro — a guy whose presence and name make us so happy that Berman isn't doing this game — drills a double to left field, and holy crap, folks, it's 2-0 A's. And Johan has suddenly forgotten how to pitch. His last home loss was August 2005, ESPN tells us. And there's trouble now.

Mark Ellis strikes out, and look, there are runs!

A's 2, Twins 0

Bottom Of The First

Luis Castillo is a little fatter than we realized. He's not Ronnie Belliard fan, but he's got some oomph on him. And he takes a leadoff walk. And here we go. There is much white cloth being waved in Minneapolis.

Morgan just used the term "manufacture runs." And with that, we remember why sometimes the playoffs drive us nuts. Nick Punto is batting, but his job is mostly to take pitches so Tubby Luis Castillo can get thrown out trying to steal second. Which is exactly what happens. And then he flies out to right.

Joe Mauer, who is from Minneapolis in the same way that Jerome Bettis is from Detroit, grounds out, and it's scoreless. It is without score.

Twins 0, A's 0

Top Of The First

You know, it occurs to us that we don't know a single thing about Johan Santana. We know he plays in Minnesota, and they're not that tabloidy over there, but seriously: We couldn't give you a single piece of biographical information about Santana. His name is Johan. That's the most intriguing thing we can give you.

God. The homer hankies. We hate the homer hankies. By the way, that weird guy a while back who insisted there was a swastika in the roof of the Metrodome? ESPN just showed a shot looking up at the dome, and we think we saw it. Fucking Mel Gibson.

Jason Kendall just swung and missed dramatically, flinging his bat in the air, and there's one down. You're gonna need that, buddy. Mark Kotsay is up next, and he's a guy we've never had a single thought about other than the one we just had. Which is that we'd never had a thought about him. And then he strikes out too. At least he still has the bat.

Speaking of throwing things, it's Milton Bradley! He grounds out to shortstop, and the inning is over. Don't expect four paragraphs every half inning. Lots of baseball today.

Twins 0, A's 0

Pregame

Welcome! This is a tasty pre-Cardinals platter off the HHH dome. It's really quite quaint that the Twins don't have a corporate sponsorship for their dome. That's not the Humphrey estate paying for that, is it?

Your broadcast team: Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. Did you know he's in the Hall of Fame? Well, he is: He's in the Hall of Fame.