10/03/06 5:30 PM ET
Chess Match: A's get best of Twins
In tightly contested matchup, strategy plays big role in outcome
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Running from the start
The situation: Luis Castillo led off the Twins first with a walk against Barry Zito, bringing up Nick Punto.The decision: Castillo, who stole 25 bases during the regular season and was caught 11 times, tried to steal second on a 2-2 pitch to Punto. The outcome: Athletics catcher Jason Kendall threw out just 24.5 percent of attempted basestealers in the regular season, fifth-lowest in the league. But opponents were successful in just eight of 20 attempts when Barry Zito was on the mound. This time, Kendall threw out Castillo. Manufacturing shortage
The situation: Frank Thomas led off the seventh with a single and Eric Chavez reached on shortstop Jason Bartlett's error, giving the Athletics two on with no outs against Twins starter Johan Santana.The decision: The Athletics did nothing to try to manufacture an extra run, like pinch-run for Thomas or have Payton bunt the runners over. The outcome: Payton popped out on the first pitch. Nick Swisher walked to load the bases. But Thomas stayed at third on Marco Scutaro's fly to center, and Mark Ellis flied out to end the inning. Of course, everything turned out great for the Athletics when Thomas hit his second home run of the game. Where's the bunt?
The situation: Bartlett led off the eighth with a double for the Twins, who were trailing 2-1 at the time.The decision: Castillo came up, missed on one attempted sacrifice bunt. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire then decided to have Castillo swing away. The outcome: Castillo grounded out to third and Bartlett had to stay at second. Barry Zito then got out of the inning by getting Punto on a grounder to second and Joe Mauer on a liner to left.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.