Home > Uncategorized > Liriano scuffles as Twins drop finale

Liriano scuffles as Twins drop finale

July 24, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Twins starter Francisco Liriano clearly did not have his best stuff on Sunday, and he could not find a way to battle through it.

Liriano was all over the place, walking four batters and throwing two wild pitches, as he lasted just 2 1/3 innings in giving up four earned runs on six hits in the Twins’ 5-2 loss to the Tigers.

“We were trying to get [Liriano] to just throw his fastball over the plate, and he really couldn’t find anything,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “He was spinning off the ball. Hopefully, there will be better days ahead for him.”

The loss knocked the Twins back to seven games under .500 and seven games behind the first-place Tigers.

Coming into this 11-day homestand, the Twins had an opportunity to gain some ground on the leaders in the American League Central, with eight of their 12 games coming against the Indians and the Tigers.

“This homestand is not like earth-shattering or anything like that,” Michael Cuddyer said. “We’ve just got to go out and figure out a way to win on the road, starting tomorrow.”

For an inning, Liriano’s performance could have been labeled “effectively wild,” as he stranded two runners in the first without giving up a run. But in the second, the wildness caught up with him, as he spiked two sliders in the dirt.

The first wild pitch allowed Ryan Raburn to advance to second base, and the second bounced out of play, scoring Raburn from third.

“The day started off pretty good in the bullpen,” catcher Joe Mauer said. “Obviously, a little different once we got out there. I tried my best to try to settle him down a little bit. You know how hard he wants to give a good performance for the team, and we just weren’t able to get it done today.”

Liriano’s control continued to elude him in the third inning, and the Tigers consistly worked deep in the count before putting together four consecutive one-out singles to score three runs.

“We were fortunate Liriano didn’t have his command and got his pitches count up,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I thought we did a really good job with him today, being patient.”

Despite notching just seven outs, Liriano threw 78 pitches, 43 for strikes, though just 29 of Liriano’s pitches were actually in the strike zone, according to PitchFX data.

“He’s just trying to do too much with it,” Mauer said. “I think when Frankie gets into trouble, he overthrows a little bit. When he’s nice and relaxed, I keep telling him, his ball moves a lot.

“I know he was frustrated with it, and we’re frustrated with the loss.”

In his previous outing, Liriano had control issues as well, but managed to get through six innings against the Indians with only one run allowed on four hits. He did walk four, hit a batter and throw a wild pitch, though, in that outing.

Liriano now has eight wild pitches on the season, tying him for fifth in the American League.

“He didn’t throw the ball over, it didn’t matter who was up there,” Gardenhire said. “The ball just was not going over the plate. I think at one point he threw a couple of strikes in a row, but I don’t think there were too many times that he did that. That’s a rough outing.”

Gardenhire was forced to call on his bullpen in the third inning, asking relievers to cover 6 2/3 innings, despite having already been overworked on the homestand. They performed as well as could have been expected, giving up just one run on one hit.

Anthony Swarzak allowed a run over 3 1/3 innings, while Chuck James tossed 1 1/3 scoreless frames. Alex Burnett and Matt Capps also tossed scoreless innings to close it out.

Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello effectively shut down the Twins’ offense for six innings, allowing just two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and a pair of walks. Both Twins runs came in the fourth inning, on an RBI groundout by Jim Thome and Delmon Young’s RBI double to left.

The Twins will not have much time to muse over the disappointing loss, as they head to Texas to begin an 10-game road trip against the American League West.

“It would’ve been nice to get a few more wins here at home, but we’ve still got a lot of games to go,” Mauer said. “We’ve got to play better.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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