By: Kelly Thesier/MLB.com
DETROIT — The Twins prepare to open up their series against the Tigers tonight at Comerica Park with a new distinction — owning the best record in the Major Leagues.
Thanks to the Rays winning two straight games over the Yankees, the Twins have taken over with the best overall record at 92-60. It’s a nice thing to have, manager Ron Gardenhire said, but he wishes that he can say that after the next 10 days when the regular season is over.
The key for the Twins down the stretch is to try to maintain the best record while also ensuring that the team is healthy entering the ALDS. The team’s opponent is still unknown as the Rays now trail the Yankees by just a 1/2 game in the AL East race. The Twins will face whoever finishes second in the race and one key thing to know is that Tampa Bay holds the tie-breaker over the Yankees with a 10-8 record against them this season.
Here are some Twins updates today:
Joe Mauer will not play in this series with the Tigers, Gardenhire said, after getting a cortisone shot in his left knee on Wednesday. It’s possible that Mauer could return to the lineup on Monday in Kansas City but that will all depend on how his knee is feeling.
Twins general manager Bill Smith said Thursday that there was nothing new to report on first baseman Justin Morneau, meaning that there has been no expectation for a return and also no official decision has been made to shut Morneau down either. On his weekly radio appearance on ESPN 1500 AM, Gardenhire was asked for a Morneau
update and said, “I don’t see how [a September or October return] can
possibly happen for him.” He then added, “I hope I’m wrong…I’m hoping all of a sudden he joins us somewhere.”
Jim Thome is not in the lineup for the series opener as he’s feeling a little stiff today, Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire also said that he tried to stack the lineup with as many left-handed hitters as possible today against Verlander. So Alexi Casilla is getting the start at shortstop, since he’s a switch-hitter, although Gardenhire stressed that J.J. Hardy is feeling just fine. Ben Revere also got the nod in right field.
Denard Span had an MRI exam on his right shoulder on Wednesday in a precautionary move since it had already been scheduled, and it didn’t show anything of concern. Gardenhire said that the MRI was part of his routine end-of-year physical and Span is back in the lineup again today.
Denard Span, CF
Orlando Hudson, 2B
Jason Kubel, DH
Michael Cuddyer, 1B
Delmon Young, LF
Danny Valencia, 3B
Jose Morales, 1B
Alexi Casilla, SS
Pitching: LHP Francisco Liriano
(14-8, 3.44 ERA)
Austin Jackson, CF
Scott Sizemore, 2B
Ryan Raburn, LF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Casper Wells, RF
Brennan Boesch, DH
Brandon Inge, 3B
Gerald Laird, C
Pitching: RHP Justin Verlander
(17-8, 3.46 ERA)
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