Target's shrinking act continues in ALDS

Target's shrinking act continues in ALDS

MINNEAPOLIS -- For most of the inaugural season at Target Field, the consensus had been that the ball did not carry well to the middle part of the Twins' new ballpark. But in recent weeks, the players have been seeing some changes.

In Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Yankees, the trend continued, as Lance Berkman hit an opposite-field shot into the Twins' bullpen in left-center, building on the theme set in the opener of the American League Division Series.

"The last month or so, or at least the last couple weeks, it's been carrying a little bit better than it did in the summer," first baseman Michael Cuddyer said after the Twins' 6-4 loss to the Yankees in Game 1.

That was the case in Game 1 on Wednesday night, when Cuddyer hit a rare shot into the spruce trees in deep center field and Curtis Granderson hit a two-run triple that bounced off right-center-field wall.

Granderson's hit off a fastball away from Francisco Liriano came with two outs in the sixth inning and with the Twins still holding a 3-2 lead. Manager Ron Gardenhire said that many of his players and coaches thought that Granderson's ball was an inning-ending flyout when he hit it, but the ball just kept carrying all the way to the wall.

"[Pitching coach Rick Anderson] was standing right next to me and when we saw him hit the ball, Andy yelled, 'Yeah, nice pitch,' and started walking down the dugout but the ball ended up off the scoreboard," Gardenhire said. "Our outfielders were out there standing straight up at it. So we did not think that was going to be off the wall."

Gardenhire said that Cuddyer's homer was another example that balls aren't dying to that portion of the park, since the first baseman had lined similar shots earlier in the season that resulted in outs or doubles off the wall. There had been a suggestion earlier in the year by Jason Giambi of the Rockies that the ball might start flying more when some of the moisture evaporated out of the concrete in the new ballpark, and Gardenhire suggested that perhaps that sentiment is true.

"It's definitely flying better," Gardenhire said. "Maybe they were right, all the concrete has cured and the moisture is out of the concrete now. Maybe it's flying better because of that."