COLUMBIA — The 1985 Chicago Bears had the Super Bowl Shuffle. The 2009 Missouri Tigers baseball team has the Lineup Shuffle.
No, the baseball team hasn't moved from the batter's box to the recording studio.
Missouri coach Tim Jamieson has used the same lineup in back-to-back games only four times this season and has used at least three different players at four different fielding positions in the lineup. Six different hitters have been used as the designated hitter and no one has started as the DH more than three games in a row.
Jamieson judges his hitters on quality at-bats so when someone who doesn't have an everyday spot in the lineup struggles at the plate, they're put on the bench in favor of the new player.
"It used to be I'd stick the players with the highest on-base percentage at the top of the lineup, and I'd put guys who drove them in behind them," Jamieson said. "This season, we've tried a whole lot of things and nothing has worked."
After another lineup shuffle that Jamieson said would happen after Tuesday's loss to Minnesota, the Tigers beat the Golden Gophers 20-5 Wednesday at Taylor Stadium. The 20 runs is a season-high and the Tigers scored in six of their eight turns at-bat. Minnesota (17-10) walked 14 Tigers and hit five Tigers (16-17) with pitches.
Playing shortstop for only the second time this season, senior Kyle Mach went 2-for-5 with three RBIs including a double in the five-run first inning.
"It's what we're supposed to do," Mach said. "We went up there looking for the right pitches."
First baseman Steve Gray went 3-for-6 with three RBIs and scored three runs including a two-run single with two outs in the top of the first that sparked a five-run two-out rally.
"Hopefully, this game can turn us around," Gray said.
Gray is one of the players who has found himself bouncing in and out of the lineup at the beginning of the season but has started the past 14 games and has seen his confidence improve after being guaranteed a spot in the lineup.
"It's good to know I'm going to be in the lineup ever day," Gray said. "It takes off the pressure of saying 'I have to do well to stay in the lineup.'"
The frequent changes in the batting order stems from the Tigers' struggles at the plate all season long.
“We’ve got to string some guys together that are hot right now, and we don’t have a whole lot of those guys,” Jamieson said after Tuesday's loss to Minnesota. “Our run-scoring opportunities are few and far between, so we need to stack the guys that are swinging it good.”
For the first 19 games of the season, shortstop Michael Liberto hit ninth in the lineup before Jamieson moved him into the leadoff role for the first game against Texas A&M.
Now, Jamieson's new experiment is inserting center fielder Ryan Lollis into the leadoff role. Lollis said after Tuesday night's game that it was the first time in a long time that he has led off and the first time since joining Missouri four years ago. The change paid dividends immediately. Lollis hit a leadoff home run Tuesday and reached base three times in his four plate appearances on Wednesday.
"At first, I thought I should go up there and change my approach but then I second-guessed myself and just did what I always did," Lollis said.
Missouri faces No. 8 Baylor in a three-game weekend series in Waco, Texas. Staff ace Kyle Gibson will get the start for the Tigers at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the first game of the series. The Tigers swept the Bears in last year's series in Columbia.
"It's a team we've always played well against," Mach said. "Hopefully, we can keep the offense going."