The Twins’ lineup has a whole new look today, one that eventually will be the norm. Byron Buxton will lead off for the Twins, and while it’s probably a one-day change for now, Buxton is obviously projected to hold that spot for a long time.
Lefthander John Danks starts tonight for the White Sox, and Twins manager Paul Molitor seized on the opportunity to give Buxton — who is off to a 3-for-25 start as a major leaguer — a chance to move into the spot where he’s likely more comfortable, and perhaps to ignite Minnesota’s slumbering offense.
“His at-bats have improves. His best at-bats, for me, have been against left-handed pitching,” Molitor explained. “If we were scoring runs at a little better clip, I probably wouldn’t even have considered it. If there was a right-handed pitcher up there, I wouldn’t have considered it. It’s nothing against Danks, it’s just with his stuff and the way Byron seems to have been facing left-handed pitching, it was a chance to give him an opportunity to do what he’s done most of his career, and that’s leading off.”
The new leadoff hitter moves Brian Dozier down to second, where he’s in good position to drive in the speedy leadoff hitter. It moves Torii Hunter into the cleanup spot, and pushes Trevor Plouffe and Eddie Rosario down one spot.
At the bottom, Molitor chose Eduardo Nunez, mostly for his speed; he considered Rosario in that spot for the same reason. And Kennys Vargas is back in the lineup as the DH tonight, albeit batting eighth. “We’re just trying to find ways to get him to do what he does, and that’s hit,” Molitor said.
The Twins are 3-2 on this homestand, but the weekend series with the Cubs was a little disappointing. The Twins have scored more than three runs just once in their last seven games, so it will be interesting to see if this lineup changes anything. But Jeff Samardzija and Chris Sale are still to come in this series.
Here are the lineups for the opener of the three-game series at Target Field: