With the non-waiver trade deadline quickly approaching,
Francisco Liriano’s days with the Minnesota Twins could be
His stock likely went way up after his most recent outing.
Liriano looks to build on his career-high 15-strikeout
performance Wednesday night as the Twins continue a four-game set
with the slumping Baltimore Orioles at Target Field.
While the oft-injured left-hander hasn’t really been the same
since undergoing Tommy John surgery following his spectacular 2006
rookie campaign, Liriano (3-8, 4.93 ERA) has shown glimpses of that
form over the past few seasons.
He was at his best Friday against Oakland, making one costly
mistake – a grand slam by Jonny Gomes – over eight otherwise
dominant innings. He gave up three earned runs, four hits and one
walk in a 6-3 loss.
“His stuff was (like in ’06),” manager Ron Gardenhire told the
Twins’ official website. “Disappearing. We saw hitters swinging and
actually looking up like, ‘What was that?’
“He did everything you’re supposed to do as a pitcher. He made
one bad pitch after we made some mistakes. I tip my hat to him, son
of a gun, that was fun to watch.”
Liriano, who went 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA over his first six starts
of 2012 before being sent to the bullpen, has gone 3-3 with a 2.83
ERA while striking out 67 over 57 1-3 innings spanning nine outings
since rejoining the rotation May 30.
“I think his confidence is high right now, and that’s the key to
his success,” catcher Drew Butera said. “He’s not afraid. He goes
right after them. He knows his stuff is good enough to get
With Liriano’s recent success, however, comes some uncertainty
surrounding his future with the team. Liriano, who can become a
free agent after this season, is one of a handful of players who
could be traded prior to July 31.
“It’s casual conversation, as usual,” Gardenhire said. “Just
walking through and talking to guys. You’ve got players asking,
‘What you do you hear? What’s going on?’ But I don’t go out there
and talk trades with them.”
After snapping a five-game overall losing streak and a
seven-game skid in this series with Monday’s 19-7 victory,
Minnesota (38-52) added to Baltimore’s recent woes with Tuesday’s
6-4 win. Batting .400 over his last 23 games, Joe Mauer had three
more hits and an RBI as the Twins improved to 21-9 when he drives
in at least one run.
“It’s kind of one of those, ‘Oh well, it’s Joe again’ type
things,” Gardenhire said. “We’ve seen that before. He’s won a lot
of batting titles doing that same thing. He can flat-out hit. The
bottom line is the guy can hit.”
Baltimore (46-44) has lost six of seven overall and nine of 12
on the road to drop 10 games behind AL East-leading New York.
“We just need to put it back together,” shortstop J.J. Hardy
said. “It’s been a rough couple of games. We need to turn it
With Jason Hammel (right knee surgery) out for at least a month,
the Orioles are expected to recall Tommy Hunter (3-4, 6.11) from
Triple-A Norfolk to take the hill Wednesday. The right-hander gave
up a combined 24 runs over his last five starts spanning 28 1-3
innings before being moved to the bullpen and ultimately sent down
He’s been hit especially hard on the road, going 0-3 with an
8.07 ERA over six starts.
Hunter, though, beat Liriano during an 8-2 home victory April 7,
allowing two unearned runs over seven-plus innings. Liriano yielded
six runs and a season-high eight hits over four innings in that
game, dropping to 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA in this series.