Gomez is starting in center, batting seventh, with Denard Span moving to right field and Jason Kubel back in his usual designated-hitter spot. It's the outfield setup that the Twins have been using late in games to provide more defensive coverage.
"We'll get our defense out there, and Go-Go [Gomez] brings the speed part to the lineup and covers a lot of ground," Gardenhire said. "He irritates people, sometimes me."
Gardenhire cited the righty/lefty splits of Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett as another one of his reasons for starting Gomez. Left-handed hitters batted .217 vs. Burnett this season, while right-handers batted .285. So Gardenhire said he wanted to put as many right-handed hitters in the lineup as he could.
"His at-bats have been better lately," Gardenhire said of Gomez, who has batted .143 in 35 at-bats since Sept. 1. "He's put some good swings on some balls and not swung as crazy. So hopefully, he'll carry that into the game tonight. [Burnett] throws it down in the zone, so hopefully [Gomez will] bang the ball on the ground and get on the basepaths for us."
With Gomez in the lineup, Gardenhire moved Kubel back to DH, which is the spot he occupied for most of the season. Kubel also was back batting cleanup after hitting fifth on Wednesday night. He's batted fourth the majority of the time since Justin Morneau went down with a back injury, but Gardenhire will sometimes put Michael Cuddyer in the fourth spot when Minnesota faces a left-hander, which was the case in Game 1 when CC Sabathia started for New York.
Jose Morales had been the DH when the club had been facing right-handers recently, but Morales looked a little overwhelmed in his first two at-bats during Tuesday's one-game tiebreaker against Detroit at the Metrodome. He struck out both times while facing Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello before being replaced by the Twins' other recent DH option, Brendan Harris.
Gardenhire said that he's still not afraid to turn to Morales as a pinch-hitter late in the game on Friday. But the hope is that by shifting Kubel back to DH, the Twins might get more production out of the spot. In 23 October at-bats, Minnesota's designated hitters have combined for just six hits and only one extra-base hit -- a double.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.