First Pitch: 5:05pm PDT
If "Beaneball" doesn't work in the playoffs, as is the common claim of national journalists who generally don't know shit about shit, then why is Oakland 10-3 in non-series clinching games since 2000? Everyone focuses on their inability to get that elusive third win, but what about their remarkable success in getting the first two? Does all that "October pressure" just not manifest itself until you're one win away from advancing? The Twins are 2-8 in playoff games since 2001. Why aren't they also considered a bunch of chokers?
Also, for all the talk about how it's been Billy Beane's offense that's let him down with the series on the line, Oakland's pitching staff has allowed 50 runs in those nine potential clinching games, against 35 in the other 13. The lineup hasn't been good, either, but the A's haven't lost because they're a station-to-station team. They've lost because they haven't been able to score enough to overcome the really lousy pitching they've received. It's as much the fault of the former "Big Three" as it is anyone else's, and no one ever talks about that.
All that said, the A's have a terrific shot at putting everything behind them, because they're back home on top 2-0 with a favorable pitching matchup staring them in the face. The list of advantages Dan Haren holds over Brad Radke begins with "has a shoulder" and goes on forever, including pretty much everything except "veteran guile," which goes to Radke by virtue of the date his parents bumped uglies. Because this could very easily be the last game of his career, Radke might come out a little charged up, but he's being held together with bad tape and worse string, and that can only go on for so long. While you have to admire his courage and determination, you also have to realize that nobody on the Twins feels particularly good about having their season rest on his remaining shoulder, because there's just no way of knowing how long he can last before everything goes to hell.
Forget Curt Schilling's bloody sock. Brad Radke's one-upping him in the bravery department (and five-upping him in the not-being-a-pompous-slapdick department), and even if today's the day his career comes to a close, he'll almost literally be leaving it all on the field, and you can't ask for much more than that. It's just a shame that he's been put in this position, since it'll take the strength of ten men to keep this series alive, and Radke doesn't even have the strength of one. So good luck to Minnesota, because Brad Radke's always been totally awesome, and because they'll need it. And good luck to Oakland, because they deserve to have the playoff monkey lifted off their back once and for all. You really and truly can't go wrong rooting for either team this afternoon.
Oh yeah, they tell me there's another game later tonight, but whatever.