Tigers-Twins Preview

The AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins have been adept at

grinding out victories. When Francisco Liriano has pitched

recently, those wins have come slightly easier.

Liriano seeks to extend his winning streak to a career-high

seven games Wednesday night when the Twins continue their

three-game series with the Detroit Tigers.

Manager Ron Gardenhire admitted Tuesday’s 4-3 win was an “ugly

game.” Two errors led to all three Tigers runs, there were

baserunning blunders and injuries to Jason Kubel, possibly Orlando

Hudson and closer Brian Fuentes – adding to a team already

decimated.

The biggest injury concern may be Fuentes, whose back locked up

on him in the bullpen and could be sidelined for a few games. Matt

Capps pitched the ninth for his seventh save with the Twins and

33rd overall, capping a stellar relief corps effort that

contributed 2 1-3 scoreless innings to help Minnesota rally from a

3-0 deficit.

“We all try to build off each other,” Jesse Crain said.

”Everyone out there, we’ve all been in hold situations, save

situations. So we feel anytime we go out there we treat it the same

way, as if it’s the ninth inning.”

Despite the injuries, Minnesota (76-56) is still four games

ahead of the White Sox in the division and sends its staff ace to

the mound in Liriano (12-7, 3.41 ERA). The left-hander is 6-0 with

a 2.47 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break and was

efficient in outpitching Cliff Lee on Thursday, giving up two runs

in seven innings of a 6-4 win over Texas.

“When I can throw my changeup, things go better for me,”

Liriano said. “I was getting ahead in the count and focusing on

getting the first hitter.”

This is the third time in Liriano’s career he has carried a

six-game winning streak into a start, also doing so in 2006 and

2008. He has struggled in his last two starts against the Tigers

since beating them April 27, getting tagged for 13 runs and 15 hits

in 7 2-3 innings.

Miguel Cabrera is 6 for 15 with three doubles and a homer versus

Liriano, who is 4-3 with a 5.24 ERA in 10 starts and 14 lifetime

appearances versus the Tigers.

Tigers counterpart Max Scherzer (10-9, 3.60) also is pitching

well of late. He has won three straight starts and has a 1.31 ERA

over his last six. The right-hander allowed a solo homer and little

else to the Toronto Blue Jays in eight innings of a 7-1 victory

Thursday.

“You can see him on the mound, he has a mound presence that is

saying ‘Hey, I’m doing pretty good and I feel pretty good about

myself,”’ manager Jim Leyland said. ”You’d be a fool if you can’t

see that.”

Scherzer endured two miserable starts against the Twins in a

five-day span earlier this season, going 0-1 with an 18.00 ERA. He

allowed a season-worst 10 runs in 4 1-3 innings in a 10-4 defeat

May 3 and failed to last five innings in either outing.

Detroit has dropped four of six since winning five straight.