Liriano threw five solid innings in his first start of the season and Tony Batista hit a grand slam to help the Twins snap a five-game losing streak with a 7-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
"Every time he takes the mound, it's just electric," said Twins first baseman Michael Cuddyer, who also helped Liriano's cause with a solo homer in the sixth. "That poise he shows, he's in control of himself all the time."
Batista hit his ninth career grand slam in the eighth as part of a five-run inning. Brewers starter Doug Davis (2-3) had entered the inning trailing 2-1, but he walked Luis Castillo and allowed a single to Joe Mauer to put runners on the corners with no out, ending his night.
Mauer stole second, and after an out, reliever Jose Capellan intentionally walked Cuddyer.
"We were trying to get out of the inning with one pitch, turn a double play," Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
But Capellan plunked Lew Ford, scoring Castillo, and Batista hit the next pitch over the Brewers' bullpen to make it 7-1.
"We were able to put some runs across the board and get a lot of cushion late with Tony's grand slam," Cuddyer said. "It was nice for us."
There's something even nicer on the horizon for the Twins, who had lost the last five games by four runs or less.
Minnesota lawmakers are expected to pass a financing plan for a $522-million outdoor ballpark for the Twins this weekend. Major construction would begin next year and the park would open in 2010.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee had been streaking during its nine-game homestand by winning five of the first six, including a sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies and three wins in the last at-bat.
But Liriano (2-0), working on a pitch count, allowed just one run on two hits while walking three and striking out five before giving way to Matt Guerrier.
"It's not like you can sit on one pitch because he throw his fastball at 96, 97," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He can throw that slider just about anytime, and then when he mixes the changeup in there, I'm sure they were having a tough time."
Liriano was promoted from the bullpen in the hope that he'll provide much needed stability to the Twins rotation with Kyle Lohse (2-4, 8.92 ERA) banished to Triple-A and Carlos Silva (2-6, 8.62 ERA) trying to work out his problems in the bullpen.
"We got the win and I feel great," a smiling Liriano said. "I'm going to do my best, that's the only thing I do, can't help anything else."
The 22-year-old Dominican left-hander also had an RBI single and stymied the Brewers bats with a fastball that reached 97 mph in his final inning.
"He's a kid that they've got a lot of hope in over there," Yost said. "You can see why, throwing 97, 98 mph fastball with a really good breaking ball and a nice changeup. He's going to be a nice pitcher for them."
The Twins got on the board first when Ford was hit by Davis, who also walked Batista. After Juan Castro hit into a double play, Davis only needed to get Liriano out in his first major-league at-bat.
Davis failed, and Liriano's RBI flare single put Minnesota ahead 1-0.
"I made a good pitch, he just happened to flare it where we weren't," Davis said. "That's why it's an unfair game, right?"
Liriano managed to stay out of more trouble in the fourth and fifth with the help of double plays, and the Brewers failed to score with men on second and third with one away in the seventh after Jesse Crain relieved Dennys Reyes and got the final two outs.
Cuddyer's homer gave the Twins a 2-1 lead.
- Liriano threw 68 pitches, while Davis threw 117.
- Davis now has 39 walks this season.
- Twins CF Torii Hunter called a players' only meeting to discuss the team's problems before the game. He declined to reveal details, saying that it was "upbeat."
- The Twins have played in the Metrodome since 1982.
- Brewers SS Bill Hall extended his hitting streak to eight games in the fifth.
- The Twins now lead the all-time series with the Brewers 192-190.
- Batista's grand slam was the Twins' second this season after Hunter hit one April 5 against Toronto.
- Batista's last grand slam came Aug. 3, 2004 against St. Louis.