The A’s will head to the neutral site at Dodger Stadium to begin the AL Divisional Series against the Houston Astros on Monday.
While the A’s are more than used to seeing their fair share of the Astros, playing at this particular ballpark, instituted because of the playoff "bubble" safety protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, will be something new for Oakland.
A’s pitching coach Scott Emerson on Friday said players typically are equipped to handle various different ballparks, considering they’ve played across the country before making it to the bigs. He surmises this shouldn't be too much of an adjustment for both parties.
“When you get to an environment where it’s a neutral site, no one really has the home field advantage other than the home team, you bat second, but the elements are a little bit different in LA," Emerson said.
"I think when we were down there last time, I thought the park played a little small, I thought it played kind of like Houston.Next thing you look up and you’re like ‘How the heck did this ball get out of here?’”
This season, Dodger Stadium averaged 1.165 home runs per game, the ninth-most in the league. Of course, the Dodgers' mightly lineup factors into that, but with a guy like Clayton Kershaw on LA's staff, you would think it favors pitchers as well -- and it typically does. So that uptick in homers this season could be viewed as an outlier.
Minute Maid Park, the Astros' home ballpark Emerson referenced, has a reputation of being an extreme hitter’s park. Although it averaged just 0.716 homers per game this season, as Emerson described, that number doesn’t show how he’s seen balls fly in Houston.
“You go right back to the ball, to the hard bat, and you think ‘Jeez, we might as well be playing with aluminum,’” Emerson said. “But you know, in the playoffs, you tend to pitch a little more swing-and-miss, that’s why if you look up, most of the time, not all the time, velocity wins, you’re throwing more velocity at guys.”
Emerson said while the dimensions are different at every ballpark, the basic measurements, at the end of the day, are all the same in baseball. The plate, the distance between bases, etc. -- it’s all uniform across the league.
“But I think when both teams do have to play on the same field, I think that’s always a reminder to everybody,” he said.