By Joe Christensen
CLEVELAND — With Joe Mauer in at designated hitter, Jose Morales is getting the start at catcher today, as the Twins try to snap their two-game losing streak against Cleveland.
Nick Punto also is in at second base, with Alexi Casilla on the bench.
The pitching match-up is Scott Baker vs. Justin Masterson. When these two squared off on Aug. 14 at the Metrodome, the Twins rolled to an 11-0 victory.
Baker is 3-0 with a 0.78 ERA in three starts against the Indians this season, and the Twins need another big one from him today. Detroit plays tonight at Tampa Bay, with Armando Galarraga pitching opposite James Shields.
Update: If all goes well with Francisco Liriano’s simulated game Tuesday, he will be available in the bullpen Thursday. Liriano said his arm is feeling the best it’s felt all season.
Lefthanders are batting .354 off Masterson, compared to .152 for righthanders. Manager Ron Gardenhire said he was trying to get as many lefthanded bats into the lineup as he could, which is why he went with Morales over Mike Redmond.
Glen Perkins had dye injected into his left shoulder before his latest MRI exam on Wednesday, which will keep him from throwing for three or four more days. This could wipe out any chance that he pitches for Class AAA Rochester this weekend, and there are no guarantees the Twins will promote him back to the big leagues on Tuesday.
In fact, Gardenhire hinted strongly that the focus might now turn to shutting Perkins down so he’s healthy heading into next season.
“You can’t do anything unless a player feels comfortable,” Gardenhire said. “We tried to send him to Rochester to pitch, but he didn’t feel comfortable enough to do that, obviously, because he went and got another [medical] opinion. So I don’t know where you go from there, other than have the winter to get ready for spring training.”
Update: Twins GM Bill Smith confirmed that the Twins will promote Justin Huber from Rochester on Tuesday. Huber is batting .273 with 22 home runs and 76 RBI and will give the Twins another righthanded bat off the bench.
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Orlando Cabrera, SS
3. Joe Mauer, DH
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Jason Kubel, LF
6. Michael Cuddyer, RF
7. Brendan Harris, 3B
8. Jose Morales, C
9. Nick Punto, 2B
Starting pitcher: RH Scott Baker (12-7, 4.44 ERA)
1. Michael Brantley, CF
2. Jamey Carroll, LF
3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
4. Jhonny Peralta, 3B
5. Travis Hafner, DH
6. Matt LaPorta, RF
7. Luis Valbuena, 2B
8. Andy Marte, 1B
9. Wyatt Toregas, C
Starting pitcher: RH Justin Masterson (4-6, 4.57 ERA)
Progressive Field. First pitch: 3:10 p.m. (Central). TV: None. Twins Radio Network