A Yankee wind

The weather was perfect at Target Field for Game 1 Wednesday night. Perfect for the Yankees that is.

On a night when there was little breeze for most of the game, one puff of wind may have played a role in the outcome.

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Flags atop left field blowing in during pre game.

Photos by Paul Huttner. (Click to enlarge images)

Make no mistake; the ball was jumping out of Target Field Wednesday night. Numerous players on both teams hit prodigious home run shots during batting practice before the game. The ball carried very well with what seemed to be a helping northwest wind before the game. Twins radio broadcaster and former Twin player Dan Gladden even commented on how the ball “was flying out of the stadium” as he stood at the batting cage during batting practice.

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Dan Gladden, Jack Morris, Harmon Killebrew and others look on during BP.

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Delmon Young and Denard Span at the cage. Young’s towering shots carried into the second deck during warm ups.

The trend continued even as winds died down a bit in the early innings as Michael Cuddyer launched a two run homer over the center field wall in the bottom of the second inning. Center field is usually a place where long fly balls go to die at Target Field. But Cuddyer’s low trajectory drive bored through the air, just clearing the wall.

In the 6th, Yankee Curtis Granderson hit another shot that carried well into the night sky. This one caromed high off the wall deep in right center, a two run triple.

Then came the 7th inning.

Mark Teixeira launched a deep fly down the right field line. Michael Cuddyer watched the ball sail over him near from his vantage point near the first base line. He said in his post game comments he thought it might hook foul as pull shots often do.

But just as Teixeira stepped to the plate, the flags in right field began to blow slightly to the left, toward fair territory. The ball’s flight stayed true, and instead of hooking foul the ball sailed less than 3 feet inside the fair pole, and the Yankees had a 6-4 lead they would not relinquish.

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Did a “helping” wind blowing toward center keep Teixeira’s drive fair in the 7th?

I watched the flags in right field hang still one second, then blow toward center field on the next puff of air periodically Wednesday night. The wind speed may have only been between 5 and 10mph with these periodic puffs. It is possible that the timing of that puff of air in the 7th inning had just enough force to keep Texeria’s drive in fair territory, and potentially affect the outcome of the game.

A season of wind flow mysteries:

What I observed Wednesday night confirms in my mind that the ideal home run conditions at Target Field occur with light winds, and not necessarily with a tail wind blowing out. Higher winds seem to create turbulence inside the stadium. This includes possible downdrafts after wind rushes over the “airfoil” canopy atop the stadium. The wind also seems to swirl in circular fashion in the outfield.

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Target Field “airfoil” canopy may play a role in swirling stadium winds.

Twins fans and players have all observed the same oddities about how the ball carries at Target Field. I asked Twins season ticket holder Jeremy Anderson about his perceptions on ball flight from his vantage point. His seats are well down the right field line in the lower level. It’s a perfect spot to watch balls soar into the outfield. “They come off the bat strong, but they don’t carry very well. I think it carried better in the Metrodome.”

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Twins Fans Jeremy Anderson (left) and his buddy during pre game.

More than once I have observed the pennant fags atop the left field wall and the flags in the right field plaza blowing in different directions at the same time. I have even seen them blowing toward each other!

Baseball games are won by the players on the field. Still, as a meteorologist and baseball nut, I find it fascinating to watch wind currents at Target Field. There are mysteries still to be discovered about the many possible “micro vortices” that inhabit the new Twins home.

PH

Here are a few more photos from the game.

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A-Rod & Yankees warm up.

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Grounds crew preps the field.

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Harmon Killebrew at pre game interview.

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Francisco Liriano delivers the first ever pitch in post season play at Target Field. It was a strike to Yankee Derek Jeter.

  • Steve

    How does the weather and wind look for tonight’s Game 2?

  • Nancy Rockafellar

    Dear Paul H., Thanks so much for your blog–its the best thing I’ve found since moving to Minn–I love the astronomy tips, the squeaking boots in January, the “Deep snow Moon”, and now all this baseball! Truly unique and indeed in Minn, you’ve convinced me that the weather is the central metaphor of existence! Thanks for the enjoyable life information!