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Rays, Twins Doubleheader: Game 1 Lineup

Nick Blackburn may be right handed, but Rays manager Joe Maddon is sending out his anti-left-handed-pitcher squad -- which includes Sean Rodriguez and Kelly Shoppach. There may be a couple reasons for the move: (1) the Rays are playing a doubleheader and may want to save their anti-RHP platoon until they face righty Anthony Swarzak at 8:00 p.m. tonight (this seems unlikely), or (2) Maddon may possibly see something in Blackburn's splits he's trying to exploit.

Over his career, Blackburn has been pretty typical, platoon splits wise -- he struggles against lefties and fares better against righties. Well, during 2010, that distinction began to even out, and this year it has become a complete reverse split. Still, it's a little too early in the year to make such adjustments, even if Blackburn appears to be using his changeup more often.

A final possibility also exists: (3) Joe Maddon may just want to test Rodriguez and Shoppach out against a non-dominant RHP. Both hitters can hit LHP rather well, but have never received a consistent shot has hitting the same hand (in his career, Shoppach has just over 700 plate appearances against right-handed pitching -- a little over a full season's worth PAs; and anything can happen in just one season).

Most likely, the unique lineup is a combination of these three factors. The lineup per TBO Rays:

Fuld LF
Damon DH
Upton CF
Joyce RF
Zoby 2B
S-Rod 3B
Shoppach C
Kotchman 1B
Brignac SS

Photographs by cstreet.us, thelastminute, turtlemom nancy , fesek, kthypryn, justinwright, sue_elias, pointnshoot, and scrapstothefuture used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.