ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Joe Mauer has a .398 career batting average at Tropicana Field, better than any player who has ever come to the plate 100 times under this catwalk-laced dome.

This dome next to a freeway near downtown St. Pete has a bad reputation around baseball, widely considered, along with Oakland's Coliseum, to be the worst in the game. A weird, sterile environment, in the middle of nowhere for most fans in the area, with turf that bothers players' legs and a roof that can be hard to see the ball against.

But Paul Molitor noted before the game that there are some positive attributes to playing here, too. Certainly Mauer has found that to be true.

The dark blue batters eye, for instance, is great for hitters. "Backdrop was always a big factor for me," Molitor said. "And you're playing on a field that's fast, there's room in the gaps, you can get the ball out of the park. … It's a good hitting environment."

Into that environment comes a Twins team that scored 37 runs over four games in Cleveland, and while just two of them came in a deflating finale on Thursday, Molitor is optimistic that the hitting will pick up again under the roof. It's raining outside, but we're dry and air-conditioned indoors.

With lefthanded rookie Blake Snell, the Rays first-round pick in 2011, on the mound tonight, Molitor has elected to keep Eddie Rosario on the bench, choosing Robbie Grossman for left field, next to Byron Buxton in center. Jorge Polanco returns to the lineup, too, with Miguel Sano serving as designated hitter.

Here are the lineups for the first game of three here in Florida, where the Twins have won the series the past two seasons.


Dozier 2B

Mauer 1B

Kepler RF

Sano DH

Suzuki C

Grossman LF

Escobar SS

Polanco 3B

Buxton CF

Santana RHP


Forsythe 2B

Kiermaier CF

Longoria 3B

Miller DH

Franklin 1B

Dickerson LF

Souza RF

Beckham SS

Maile C

Snell LHP