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10/07/09 6:15 PM EST
Twins' Game 1 lineup has familiar look
Tiebreaker hero Casilla on bench to begin ALDS vs. Yanks
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The Twins' lineup hasn't changed much since Justin Morneau went down with a stress fracture in his lower back three weeks ago.
And considering that the club has gone 17-4 in its past 21 games, it's no surprise that Minnesota's lineup looked the same for Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees as well.
Denard Span led off and played center field for the Twins. After Span was Orlando Cabrera at shortstop, and Joe Mauer at catcher while batting in his usual third spot. Michael Cuddyer hit cleanup and was at first base, followed by Jason Kubel in right field, Delmon Young in left field, and Brendan Harris as the designated hitter. Matt Tolbert was at third base, hitting eighth, and Nick Punto was in the nine-hole at second base.
Sticking with his usual lineup, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire made only a few slight tweaks.
With the Twins facing a left-hander in CC Sabathia, Gardenhire chose to flip-flop Cuddyer and Kubel in the batting order. Kubel has been hitting primarily behind Mauer, but Gardenhire has at times separated the two left-handed bats with the right-hander Cuddyer.
Harris also got the nod at designated hitter due to the team facing a lefty. Harris and Jose Morales have been splitting time at DH, with Gardenhire liking the way that Harris has been swinging against southpaws.
Morales wouldn't have started against a left-hander, but Gardenhire said he might have considered starting Harris regardless of which pitcher they faced. Morales went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello on Tuesday night, and he was replaced by Harris in the sixth inning with right-hander reliever Zach Miner in the game.
"He was scuffling a little bit," Gardenhire said of Morales. "He didn't look like he was seeing the ball. So I said, 'I've got to go to Harry.' I had to. The ball was getting blown by him, and it looked like he was a little flustered. So you make a change. He's a young player, but he can hit. We know he can hit. It just didn't look like it was going to happen last night."
As for whether Morales would be the DH for Game 2 on Friday with right-hander A.J. Burnett starting for the Yankees, Gardenhire said he wasn't sure.
"We have to see what we've got," Gardenhire said. "We have to look at some numbers, a right-left thing. I'll just have to see. I'm not afraid to put him back out there. He's not done. That's why he's on the playoff roster. I think he can hit. He had just had a couple bad at-bats. He was looking at some video, and he was pulling off the ball pretty bad. We'll get him back out there in batting practice and some swings to stay on the ball. So we'll see."
Gardenhire said the one lineup dilemma that he was not able to solve was finding a spot for Tuesday night's walk-off hero, Alexi Casilla. The infielder had just one at-bat in Tuesday's contest and it was his game-winning single to right field in the 12th inning. It also marked only the third plate appearance for Casilla since Sept. 11.
"I honestly would have liked to get Lexi in there, but I couldn't do it," Gardenhire said. "He's like 9-for-13 off [Sabathia]. Those are old numbers, but I don't want to stick him at third base having not played third base. But he'll be my bullet off the bench for the big situation."