Ron Gardenhire had a simple explanation for putting Eduardo Escobar in the Twins' lineup tonight, and in the leadoff spot:
"He's 1-for-1," the Twins manager said. "We'll take anything we can get."
That's the respect the Twins have for Justin Verlander, who has started 24 games against Minnesota in his Tigers career -- and pitched the Tigers to victory in the last nine straight. Minnesota is 9-15 in games Verlander has started (he's 13-7 personally), including a 4-2 victory over Vance Worley and the Twins on Opening Day.
Coincidentally, it's Worley on the mound again tonight, hoping to build upon two straight good starts. Worley pitched a total of 12 innings against Chicago and Texas, giving up a total of three runs (2.25 ERA) and striking out 10.
As good as Verlander has been the past few years -- and he's got a 1.95 ERA in five starts this season -- a couple of Twins have had some success against him, Joe Mauer most notably (as I blogged about last night). But Justin Morneau owns a .267 batting average with two homers against the Tigers' ace, and Chris Parmelee is 2-for-7 with a home run.
On the other hand, Aaron Hicks is 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, so Gardenhire figured tonight is as good a time as any to give him a night on the bench, with Wilkin Ramirez stepping in. Ryan Doumit, 0-for-11 lifetime vs. Verlander, is also on the bench, but Josh Willingham (1-for-11) is in there, as is Trevor Plouffe (3-for-17).
For the Tigers, Torii Hunter is back tonight after taking Monday off. The Pine Bluff, Ark., native will be cheered by a distinguished guest: Arkansas Gov. Mike Bebee.
Tonight's lineups for the game which -- viewer alert -- will be televised on FSN Plus: