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Twins' lineup leaning right in Game 3

Twins' lineup leaning right in Game 3

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire replaced Jose Morales, who was in the designated-hitter spot, in Tuesday's 6-5, 12-inning tiebreaker win over the Tigers after the rookie looked a little overwhelmed in his first two at-bats. But Morales is getting another shot in a big situation.

Morales will make his playoff debut on Sunday, slotted as the Twins' designated hitter to face Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.

"With our situation facing a lefty, you try to find a right-handed hitter out there," Gardenhire said. "Jose, his numbers are OK right-handed since he has been up there. We will see. I can't possibly tell you what he is going to feel like when he walks up to the plate. All I can do is put him in the lineup and hope he is relaxed and puts some good swings on the ball."

Morales, a switch-hitter, had primarily been used in the DH role against right-handed pitching. But he's batted .412 (7-for-17) this season for Minnesota when hitting right-handed against southpaws.

Gardenhire said that he wanted to get as many right-handed bats in the lineup against Pettitte. So his options for the DH spot were limited, since he started Brendan Harris at third base with Matt Tolbert, having been placed on the disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle, out for the series.

The skipper watched Morales hit during a simulated game off pitcher Jeff Manship at the Metrodome on Saturday's off-day. Gardenhire said he was looking to see if Morales, who finished the season in a 4-for-29 skid, showed any signs that his recent struggles at the plate might carry over.

"He was staying on the ball and flipping it the other way, which is the way he's always started off in batting practice," Gardenhire said. "When you start fighting it a little bit, you start rolling over balls and all that stuff trying to force it. But yesterday, he was nice and relaxed and staying on the ball. Hopefully he'll take that into the game.

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Gm. 2NYY 4, MIN 3 (11)WrapVideo
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"I'm looking for him to have a good ballgame. He's had time to reflect a little bit. Hopefully [he'll] relax a little bit."

With Morales at DH, Gardenhire moved Jason Kubel into right field. That meant Carlos Gomez is back on the bench after getting a start in center field for Game 2.

"We've got him back in the role of coming off the bench, a late-inning defensive-replacement type thing," Gardenhire said of Gomez. "That's a good role for him."

Beyond those changes, the Twins' lineup was the same as Game 2. Denard Span is leading off, playing center field, followed by shortstop Orlando Cabrera, catcher Joe Mauer, Kubel, first baseman Michael Cuddyer and left fielder Delmon Young. Harris has been slotted in the seventh spot while playing third, and Morales will hit eighth, with second baseman Nick Punto finishing off the batting order.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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