It's going to be an interesting weather night at Target Field.
The first ever Twins playoff game at Target Field features an above average forecast for October this evening. The big question may be, how well will the ball carry?
There are several factors that affect baseball flight.
All other things being equal, baseballs tend to fly farther in warm humid air. Warm humid air is less dense, creating less friction on a baseball in flight.
With temperatures falling through the 60s and relatively dry air tonight (dew points in the 40s) the air will be a little denser tonight than at times over the past few months. This may act to slow balls in flight more rapidly.
Of course the biggest single factor in how far a baseball will fly (given the same hitting force) is wind. A tail wind will reduce friction and aid the ball's flight. A head wind or a downdraft will add friction and slow the ball more quickly.
We'll see gusty winds today from the northwest. The winds will taper off a bit after sunset tonight, but may still be in the 5-12mph range by game time. At Target Field, a northwest wind blows out toward right field and Target Plaza.
As I've discussed before in this space, numerous observers in addition to me have noticed that balls that seem to be home run shots as they leave the bat tend to die in the outfield. This effect seems most pronounced in center field, where there may be a vortex of swirling winds that tends to knock balls down as winds circle the high stadium walls and deflect off the scoreboard.
One area that may be favorable for home runs tonight is right field, where the opening onto Target Plaza creates a natural wind tunnel. Watch the flags tonight on the plaza. If they are blowing out briskly you can expect balls to carry further than in other areas of the park given the ambient wind speed.
There are also flags atop the stadium in right field that may hold clues to potential swirling winds tonight.
You may want to bring a light jacket tonight to the ball game.
Twins playoff game #1 Forecast:
Sky: Mostly clear
Temps: First pitch 67 degrees. Near 59 by 10pm.
Wind: NW 10-20 mph pre game, easing to 5-12 mph during the game.