Twins-White Sox Preview

Francisco Liriano just did his part to help the Minnesota Twins

improve their lofty ERA, but the team still hasn’t solved its

hitting woes.

Less than 24 hours after Liriano threw the seventh no-hitter in

the history of the franchise, Minnesota goes for a two-game sweep

Wednesday at the major league-worst Chicago White Sox.

Likely pitching for his spot in the rotation following a rough

April, Liriano walked a season-high six but did not allow a hit in

Tuesday’s 1-0 victory at Chicago (11-20).

It was the first no-hitter in the majors this season and first

for Minnesota since Eric Milton did it against the Angels on Sept.

11, 1999.

“I can’t explain it. I feel so nervous and so happy right now,”

Liriano said.

His career high-tying 123-pitch performance helped the Twins

(10-18) snap a season-worst six-game losing streak and move out of

the AL Central cellar. They are now one-half game ahead of the

White Sox, who were no-hit for the 13th time and first since Aug.

26, 1991, by Kansas City’s Bret Saberhagen.

While the Twins’ ERA dropped from 5.06 to 4.87, the club had

just six hits in the series opener – a Jason Kubel homer in the

fourth inning accounted for all the scoring – as its batting

average fell to .229.

Manager Ron Gardenhire’s club, which has scored three runs or

fewer in seven straight games, will try to get more offense going

against John Danks (0-4, 3.92 ERA) as it goes for its sixth

consecutive victory at US Cellular Field and 13th in its last 15

games there.

The White Sox, losers of 16 of 20 overall, have not won any of

Danks’ six starts this season.

The left-hander has taken the loss in three consecutive starts.

He gave up a season-high five runs and eight hits in six innings of

Friday’s 10-4 loss to Baltimore, assuring Danks of his first

winless April since his 2007 rookie season.

“This is frustrating,” he told the White Sox’s official website.

“There is no other word for it. We’re all putting the work in.

There is really no reason why it’s not going our way. We’re way too

talented. We’re working hard and it’s just frustrating.”

Danks hasn’t lost four straight starts since a career-worst

six-start skid Aug. 1-30, 2007.

He is 6-7 with a 5.06 ERA in 19 starts against the Twins.

Minnesota will counter with Nick Blackburn (1-4, 5.14), who has

lost a career-high four straight starts. The right-hander allowed

seven runs – five earned – in a season-low 3 1-3 innings of

Thursday’s 15-3 loss to Tampa Bay.

Blackburn surrendered five runs for the third straight start

along with a season-high four walks.

“I just couldn’t throw strikes,” he said. “Everything I was

throwing was going straight in the dirt. It was just one of those

days.”

Blackburn is 6-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 13 career starts against the

White Sox.

Kubel, whose 19 homers against Chicago are seven more than he

has against any other team, is batting .396 while hitting safely in

14 of 15 games. He is 9 for 37 with a homer off Danks.

White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who had his 10-game hitting

streak against the Twins snapped Tuesday, is 10 for 23 against

Blackburn.