The Great American Baseball Trip

Game 19

Minnesota Twins vs. Oakland Athletics

Sunday, July 20, 1997 - 1:05pm

Oakland Coliseum

Oakland, California

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Pre-Game Report
 The Oakland A's are struggling to stay afloat in the American League West while the Minnesota Twins don't seem to have the talent to compete this season -- even in the AL Central. But this type of matchup is sure to produce some big hits -- perhaps a big shot from Mark McGwire as he chases the record. We'll see.

Stadium Stats - Oakland Coliseum

Surface: Grass
Capacity: 39,875
Dimensions: Left Field: 330 feet, Center Field: 400 feet, Right Field: 330 feet

baseball diamond image

Team Profiles
Twins Logo

Minnesota Twins

 The Minnesota Twins are known for getting more out of their roster than they deserve. If that proves to be true this season, the Twins could be more difficult to dispatch than a first glance at their roster would permit.

 Like every team in the majors, the Twins will rely on their starting pitchers to lead them to the playoffs. Rick Aguilera, who has battled injuries the past few seasons, will lead the Twins rotation, with off-season addition Bob Tewksbury backing him up. Tewksbury, who is baseball's active leader for fewest walks allowed per nine innings should act as a positive veteran influence on young starters Brad Radke an Frankie Rodriguez, who will fill out the starting battery. The Twins bullpen lacks a definitive closer, or middle reliever and will rely on a combination of Ike Trombley and Eddie Guardado to finish off close games.

 The off-season addition of Terry Steinbach at catcher gives the Twins a proven leader on offense and defense. Joining Steinbach around the infield will be Chuck Knoblauch, who is ready to break his own team record for runs scored following a lucrative contract extension, Paul Molitor, one of the most "intelligent" hitters in baseball, Scott Stahoviak, Pat Mears, and rookie Todd Walker who can focus on his defense as he will bat at the bottom of the order. There will be a hole in center field as a result of the loss of Kirby Puckett to glaucoma, but Rich Becker, Roberto Kelly, and 1995 American League Rookie of the Year Marty Cordova will fill his spikes adequately.

A's Logo

Oakland Athletics

 Off-season losses took the Oakland Athletics, a team that won a surprisingly high 78 games last season, and moved them farther away from the playoffs. Shane Mack, Kevin Elster, Terry Steinback and Mike Bordick, all left and took with them the core of veteran talent that led this team. Still, manager Art Howe may have a few surprises up his sleeve.

 The A's have one of the youngest starting rotations in the majors. Pitching ace Ariel Prieto left Cuba and went straight to the majors (without a stop in the minors) two years ago and is now capable of twenty wins. Willie Adams, a wiry second year pitcher, will try to repeat his rookie year brilliance as the number two starter. The rest of the rotation is up for grabs as first round pick John Wasdin, lefty Mike Mohler, Dave Telgheder, and Mike Oquist will fight to fill the remaining spots. The bullpen will try to find a strong set-up man and closer in Billy Taylor, Don Wengert, Dane Johnson and Matt Dunbar.

 But, while the A's have little to look forward to from their pitching staff, they should have no trouble putting runs on the board. First baseman Mark McGwire and DH Jose Canseco have been re-united in the middle of the lineup and are expected to produce some much needed power. Shortstop Tony Batista is coming off a strong season, Scott Brosius is comfortable with his swing after finishing last season with a .304 average, and outfielder Jason Giambi crushed 20 homeruns last season, will be a nice supporting cast. So, if the A's can overcome the shaky defense in their outfield, they could help determine who will be the champion of the AL West (even if it isn't them).

Post-Game Report
 The Oakland A's and Minnesota Twins locked up in a low scoring pitcher's duel at the Coliseum in Oakland. The weather was nice and the fans quiet. . .ahhh... I love California.

Check out all the details here, including my impressions of the stadium, batting practice, the team management I met, being up in the press box, the food, and the game and the fans

Highlights from the Oaktown

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