Alex Kirilloff has never played a major league baseball game. He's never played above the Class AA level. His last game was a year and 27 days ago, for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos against the Montgomery Biscuits.
But today, the Twins' most important game of the season, Kirilloff will start in right field and hit sixth against the Houston Astros in Game 2 of a best-of-three Wild Card Playoff series at Target Field.
Kirilloff, who spent the regular season over in St. Paul with the non-roster players, is starting instead of Byron Buxton, with Max Kepler moving to center field. Rookie Ryan Jeffers gets his second consecutive start at catcher.
Kirilloff is the third player to make his MLB debut in the postseason (Mark Kiger, A's, 2006; Adalberto Mondesi, Royals, 2015) and the first to start.
Buxton entered the series after spending the weekend with concussion like symptoms following a Friday beaning. Manager Rocco Baldelli said this morning that Buxton was "not feeling well," and would be monitored on the bench for availability.
As for Kirilloff, Baldelli said "He is about as mellow, as calm, as even-keeled as anyone I've ever been around in the game, ever."
And in pregame access, reliever Trevor May said, "Shades of Joe Mauer. That kind of poise and confidence in the box. Just a pure hitter."
No pressure there.
If the Twins lose (noon, ESPN2), their season is over. They dropped Tuesday's opener 4-1.
Check out our coverage of yesterday's game here. The Twins have lost a pro sports record 17 consecutive postseason games and eight straight postseason elimination games. They are without third baseman Josh Donaldson (calf) and Buxton, two of their key players. Of course, they won't get any sympathy from the Astros who lost ace Justin Verlander (elbow) and 2019 AL Rookie of the Year Yordan Alvarez (knee) for the season.
Jose Berrios (5-4, 4.00 ERA) starts for the Twins against September phenom Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.73). Chances of rain increase as the day goes on; tomorrow's game, if necessary, is also at noon.
George Springer, CF
Jose Altuve, 2B
Michael Brantley, DH
Alex Bregman, 3B
Kyle Tucker, LF
Yuli Gurriel, 1B
Carlos Correa, SS
Jose Reddick, RF
Martin Maldonado, C
Luis Arraez, 2B
Max Kepler, CF
Nelson Cruz, DH
Eddie Rosario, LF
Miguel Sano, 1B
Alex Kirilloff, RF
Jorge Polanco, SS
Marwin Gonzalez, 3B
Ryan Jeffers, C