By Joe Christensen
NEW YORK — Twins manager Ron Gardenhire hinted Thursday that Carlos Gomez would be in the starting lineup for Game 2, and today, that proved true.
Gomez will start in center field with Denard Span moving to right field, and Jason Kubel back in the DH spot, as the Twins try to even this best-of-five series with the Yankees.
Essentially, the swap is Gomez for Jose Morales, who has been slumping of late, but we’ll see what kind of at-bats Gomez puts together against the Yankees arsenal of strikeout specialists, beginning with starting pitcher A.J. Burnett.
Update: Gardenhire mentioned A.J. Burnett’s right/left splits as part of the reason for starting Gomez. Lefthanded hitters batted .217 against Burnett, and righthanders batted .285. Gardenhire said he wanted as many righthanded hitters in there as possible.
Gomez also improves the outfield defense.
“His at-bats have been better lately,” Gardenhire said. “Hopefully he’ll take that into the game tonight. This guy [Burnett] throws the ball down.”
(*) The Yankees’ Mark Teixeira is 6-for-6 off Blackburn with a walk, a home run and five RBI. But it’ll be tough to pitch around the No. 3 hitter, with Alex Rodriguez batting cleanup. Heck, with the Yankees lineup, it’s tough to pitch around anyone.
“When you start potentially putting people on base in this stadium, the way the ball flies, you’re making a smaller number [of runs scored] into a bigger number.” Gardenhire said.
(*) Gardenhire said Jesse Crain said he should be fine tonight. Crain was unavailable to pitch in Game 1 because of a sore groin.
1. Denard Span, RF
2. Orlando Cabrera, SS
3. Joe Mauer, C
4. Jason Kubel, DH
5. Michael Cuddyer, 1B
6. Delmon Young, LF
7. Carlos Gomez, CF
8. Matt Tolbert, 3B
9. Nick Punto, 2B
Starting pitcher: RH Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.03 ERA)
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
5. Hideki Matsui, DH
6. Nick Swisher, RF
7. Robinson Cano, 2B
8. Melky Cabrera, CF
9. Jose Molina, C
Starting pitcher: RH A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04 ERA)
Yankee Stadium. First pitch: 5:07 p.m. (Central). TV: TBS