Joe Mauer is back in the lineup today, albeit at designated hitter for the 11th time this season. His back is decidedly better today, manager Ron Gardenhire said. For those who emailed and tweeted me about why Mauer didn't pinch-hit last night: Gardenhire said as the chilly night went on, it became clear that it wasn't worth risking making his back any worse. He got treatment, and it must have worked, because Gardenhire said he could catch tonight, but won't because he'll take the day game tomorrow.
Jamey Carroll is back atop the lineup, subbing for Brian Dozier, who is in a 3-for-30 slump since launching that ninth-inning home run over the Green Monster on May 6. Not much has gone right for the batter or pitcher since that moment; Dozier has lost 35 points off his batting average, and Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan faced two more batters, then left with what turned out to be a season-ending elbow injury that required reconstruction surgery.
One other note about the lineup: It's the first time this season that Justin Morneau has batted in front of Josh Willingham. It's just a guess, but I imagine it has something to do with Ryan Dempster, the Red Sox starter today. Joe Mauer is 1-for-10 lifetime against Dempster, while Willingham is 1-for-14. Rather than putting that 2-for-24 combo together in the heart of the lineup, Gardenhire has split them with Morneau, whose 4-for-9 vs. Dempster includes a home run.
Scott Diamond vs. Ryan Dempster, by the way, is a rematch of their May 7 meeting in Fenway Park, in which Diamond and the Twins won 6-1, and also the 15th time in major-league history (since 1900; there were three in the 1880s American Association as well) that Canadian-born starting pitchers have faced each other, according to SportsNet Canada. It's the first to involve a Twin, too. Dempster is a part of six of those matchups, and is 2-2 with one no-decision in such games.
Tonight's lineups as the Twins try to snap a three-game losing streak: