Preview: Toronto Blue Jays @ Minnesota Twins (Game 1) – April 17, 2014

The Toronto Blue Jays (8-6) send R.A. Dickey to the mound this afternoon to open up a day-night double header against the Twins (6-7) in Minnesota (1:10 ET, Sportsnet).

Stock_Dickey03Dickey (1-2, 5.30) will tread unchartered waters, by pitching in extreme cold for what he calls the first time in his career. It’s wise for the Jays to send him out in the matinee, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s going to be warmer at noon, than it will be in the evening for the night game, so the hope is the elements will affect Dickey’s knuckler less. Also, regardless of how well he’s pitching, Dickey can usually chew up a few innings and save the bullpen. That will be important with Dustin McGowan starting the nightcap. He had a great start last Friday in Baltimore, but he’s still a bit of a wildcard, and having a fully stocked ‘pen will go a long way. Here’s this afternoon’s Game 1 lineup.

Blue Jays 04/17 [Game 1] (8-6)
      OBP HR RBI
LF 53 Melky Cabrera .333 4 5
2B 66 Munenori Kawasaki .400 0 0
CF 19 Jose Bautista .459 5 10
1B 10 Edwin Encarnacion .317 0 3
DH 28 Colby Rasmus .280 3 5
3B 13 Brett Lawrie .175 3 9
RF 14 Moises Sierra .188 0 1
C 22 Josh Thole .375 0 1
SS 17 Ryan Goins .200 0 0
      ERA W L
P 43 R.A. Dickey 5.30 1 2

A few notes:

– It’s surprising Jose Bautista back in centre field, after his poor route-running turned a routine single into a triple on Tuesday night. John Gibbons said it was a “coin flip” between him and Melky Cabrera. Cabrera played centre during the Yankees series without issue, so I don’t understand why Bautista is back out of his natural position.

– Colby Rasmus re-joins the lineup as the DH. It’s a wise move, with field conditions likely quite soggy, to keep him off the grass with a wonky hamstring. Anthony Gose will join the roster for tonight’s game as the 26th man for double-header days (he’s only eligible for the evening contest), and he’ll get the start in centre, while Bautista is expected to DH.

Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays– No Adam Lind today, as the club is waiting another day to see if he can avoid a DL stint. So the bench for Game 1 today consists of Dioner Navarro and Ryan Goins. Yikes.

– Jose Reyes’ return has been pushed back to Saturday. With more crappy weather expected in Cleveland, and a day game following Friday’s night contest, the Jays are erring on the side of caution, and given the history of injuries here over the previous two seasons, I’m not blaming them one bit.

– Closer Casey Janssen suffered a setback in his recovery from an abdominal strain, and has been shut down for a few days. He was nearing a return to the lineup as well, but will now be pushed back by at least a week to 10 days. If nothing else, it saves Gibbons from having to make another roster decision in the near future. When Reyes returns on Saturday, my money is on Adam Lind to the DL, one of Goins/Diaz/Kawasaki back to Buffalo, and one of the lefty power bats of Dan Johnson or Juan Francisco to join the big club. But until then, enjoy the double dip of Blue Jays baseball today.

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