DETROIT — It was tempting, Paul Molitor said, to put Joe Mauer in the middle of the Twins’ lineup today on the heels of his five-RBI night on Saturday. And his hot streak — eight hits in the past three games — might not even be the biggest reason.
“I generally like to put out my best defense with Ervin [Santana] on the mound,” the Twins’ manager said. “We want to make sure we make all the plays we’re capable of.”
But Molitor had planned all along to leave Mauer out of today’s lineup, in order to extend Monday’s off day to a two-day break for the 34-year-old first baseman. He’s played well this week, is just outside the AL’s top 10 in on-base percentage, and Molitor believes an extra day off each week is part of the reason why.
“What we’ve done with Joe, I think, has contributed to him having a really good year, and we’re not at a point where I want to alter that too much,” Molitor said. “Two days for Joe is very helpful at this stage of the season.”
Molitor has heard the critics who say he’s giving Mauer too much time off, or that the veteran first baseman is a malingerer. He doesn’t agree.
“I know there was a little feedback, if you will, the last time he didn’t play. But for me, it’s a little ironic that it wasn’t all that long ago when people questioned why we played him when we did,” he said. “I would like to think I know my guys fairly well.”
With Mauer on the bench, Miguel Sano will play first base, and Ehire Adrianza will be at third. Eduardo Escobar moves into the cleanup spot against lefthander Matt Boyd as the Twins try to bounce back from last night’s shocking 12-11 walk-off loss.
Here are the lineups for the finale in Detroit, where the Tigers will play without the injured Ian Kinsler and Miguel Cabrera: