The Twins’ lineup for tonight’s wild-card game is one that Twins fans are used to, but it’s actually quite unusual for a postseason game. Robbie Grossman batted ninth in 10 games September, after Miguel Sano went on the disabled list with a stress reaction in his left shin, and since he collected eight hits and six walks in those games, manager Paul Molitor believed the top of the order was benefitting with additional runners on base.
Once Sano was ruled out of tonight’s game, Molitor decided to stick with that philosophy. His batting order has Grossman at the bottom once more, against Yankees’ righthander Luis Severino.
It’s more rare than it seems. It’s only the seventh time in MLB history that an American League team, which uses that DH all season long, has batted its designated hitter ninth in a postseason game. While the rule has been in effect since 1973, all such instances have occurred in this century. The most recent: Eduardo Nunez served as the DH for the Yankees in Game 2 of the 2012 ALDS against Baltimore. Oddly, the Orioles did the same in Game 1 of that series, with Raul Ibanez the DH at the bottom of the lineup.
Other instances: Texas’ Yorvit Torrealba in Game 4 of the 2011 AL Championship series against Detroit, and Kenny Lofton, three times for the Yankees in 2004, in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Twins, and Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS against Boston.
If you’re looking for reasons to be optimistic tonight, how’s this: AL teams are 5-1 when batting the DH ninth in the playoffs.
The Twins are taking batting practice at the moment, with a crush of national reporters watching from the areas in front of the dugout. The Twins seem plenty loose; they were throwing around a football during stretching, as they often did late in the season. Bartolo Colon has been throwing any baseballs hit his way in the outfield to fans in the stands; it’s fun to watch them go crazy whenever a ball comes his way.
Here are the lineups for the final game of the Twins’ season, or the start to a memorable week (or month?):