Twins' Liriano gets lit up by rival White Sox

BY foxsports • July 23, 2012

Since returning to Minnesota's rotation on May 30, Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano was lights-out.

During that time, he posted a 2.84 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings. In his previous two starts, Liriano struck out 25 total batters in 14 innings of work.

Then came Monday, when Liriano unraveled for the first time in a long time. He allowed seven runs on seven hits in just 2 2/3 innings as Minnesota fell 7-4 to the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. It was Liriano's shortest outing since May 25, when he also went just 2 2/3 innings. He had previously gone at least five innings in his last 10 starts — all since returning from his demotion to the bullpen.

Monday's rough outing was the site of Liriano's no-hitter against the White Sox a season ago, and against the same team he stymied for just one run in seven innings back on June 25. But from the get-go Monday, Liriano was hit hard as he consistently left pitches over the plate. Liriano got himself into trouble early as he allowed a leadoff single in the first inning to Alejandro De Aza, who then stole second base. Liriano then walked the No. 2 batter, Kevin Youkilis, to put runners on first and second with no one out.

After Adam Dunn was robbed of a hit thanks to a diving catch by Twins shortstop Brian Dozier, Paul Konerko tagged Liriano for a three-run blast, his 15th homer of the season. Konerko connected on a 94 mph fastball on a 1-1 count from Liriano and sent it over the fence in right field. Just like that, Minnesota squandered an early lead and fell behind 3-1.

Liriano wasn't done serving up home runs. Or doubles, for that matter.

In the bottom of the third inning, De Aza led off with a hard-hit ground-rule double to left-center field. Two batters later, Adam Dunn's 29th home run of the season put the White Sox up 5-2 after he jumped on a first-pitch slider from Liriano.

Konerko then singled to bring Alex Rios to the plate. Rios followed the lead of Konerko and Dunn, homering to left field for Chicago's second two-run homer of the night. The homer by Rios prompted a mound visit by Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson.

Liriano's night lasted just two more batters — a double by A.J. Pierzynski and a fly ball out by Dayan Viciedo. The three home runs allowed were a season high. He had allowed just three total homers in 63 1/3 innings since returning to the rotation.

But the ball was flying out of U.S. Cellular Field with Liriano on the mound Monday.

"Frankie was up, obviously up. The ball was absolutely flying out there tonight," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Liriano. "He got the ball up and they made him pay. These guys can do that very well. We've seen them hit like this before. It's a bunch of guys that know when you make a mistake, that's what's going to happen. Frankie was up tonight. He just didn't have his stuff."

After so many encouraging starts in a row, Liriano appeared to have regained his confidence. But he finally reverted to his early-season ways when he was 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA in his first six starts of the season.

With the July 31 trade deadline quickly approaching, Liriano's name has been widely talked about as a likely trade chip for the Twins as he will become a free agent next season. His trade value had been steadily rising over the past two months. While one bad start likely won't wipe away all the equity he had built up since May 30, it certainly didn't help

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