A night after managing only one run off Danny Duffy, the Twins now face the ace, or at least the top winner, on the Royals' staff, James Shields. And that means, Ron Gardenhire said, trying to get as many left-handed hitters into his lineup as possible. So six left-handers or switch-hitters are in the batting order tonight behind Ricky Nolasco.
Shields has allowed left-handers to his .292 against him this season, as opposed to just .255 vs. righthanders. (Oddly, though, his career platoon split is slightly reversed; righthanders bat about 10 points better overall.)
It comes at a good time, though, for Gardenhire, because he wanted to get Brian Dozier a day off anyway. "He's been playing every game, every inning, [and] we all see him scuffling a little bit," Gardenhire said of Dozier, who batted only .185 with no homers over the last half of June. "He just missed a home run last night, [and] you can see a little frustration in the dugout with him. He's a little worn out, you can see that too."
Getting Trevor Plouffe and Eduardo Nunez back from the disabled list makes it easier for Gardenhire to give Dozier a break. And for good measure, Josh Willingham is sitting out tonight, too, so Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Parmelee can play in the outfield. Willingham is batting .136 over his last 14 games, too. I asked him if he's hurt; he laughed and said, "I think I'm being benched."
Nolasco gets the start, with hopes of improving upon his June ERA of 5.83. Gardenhire said Nolasco had a good bullpen workout in Texas, and is optimistic he's spotting his fastball better.
Tonight's lineups, with Raul Ibanez in a Royals uniform for the first time since 2003: