CHICAGO — Brian Dozier will play his 699th career game tonight. That’s not a particularly remarkable number, except in this lineup: Dozier has appeared in more than twice as many major-league games as any of his teammates.
That’s actually been the case a few times lately, any time Joe Mauer, Kurt Suzuki and Eduardo Escobar are out of the lineup, as they are tonight. But it’s just yet another illustration of how young and inexperienced the Twins are as they close the 2016 season.
The final two games will be quite a contrast on the opposing mound, with righthander James Shields — an enormous flop with the White Sox since being acquired from San Diego in June — pitching tonight, and lefthander Chris Sale, a serious candidate for the AL Cy Young Award, getting the finale.
With Shields on the mound, it would have seemed a good chance to get Mauer in the lineup, given his .313 career batting average against the former Royals and Rays ace, but Mauer, suffering from a sore right quad for seven weeks, remains too injured to play. His season is likely over, as is Suzuki’s.
Dozier, by the way, is 11-for-26 with three homers against Shields, so this might be his chance to collect home run No. 43 and RBI No. 100.
Hector Santiago has pitched well against Chicago this season — he’s 3-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 23 strikeouts in three starts — and would like to finish on a positive note.
Here are the lineups for the next-to-last game of the season:
A. Garcia DH
L. Garcia CF