|Minnesota (62-49) «||0||0||1||0||2||2||0||1||x||6||6||1|
So far, so good: After Liriano's first major league action since April, the Twins have reclaimed first place in the AL Central.
Liriano, who missed all of last season after Tommy John surgery and struggled in three starts earlier this year, threw six scoreless innings on Sunday, helping the Twins to a 6-2 victory against the Cleveland Indians.
"Been a long time," Liriano said, when reminded that his last major league victory was also against the Indians, on July 23, 2006.
Indeed, it's been a long road back for the hard-throwing lefty from the Dominican Republic. Two seasons ago, he went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and 144 strikeouts before arm problems cut short his rookie year. After taking off last season, he went 0-3 with an 11.32 ERA in three starts before being sent down in April.
But Liriano dominated at Triple-A Rochester, going 10-0 with a 2.67 ERA in his last 11 starts, and was openly frustrated as the Twins waited until Friday to call him up.
Mike Redmond caught Liriano's previous major league start, when he gave up six runs in less than an inning at Oakland on April 24.
"Amazing transformation," Redmond said. "He's improved so much. ... His arm strength, you know it's not what it was before he first got hurt. But it was pretty close."
Cheered loudly by the announced crowd of 39,818 during starting lineup introductions, Liriano allowed three hits, walked three and struck out five against the Indians. He drew a standing ovation after striking out Ben Francisco to end the first.
"That settled me down a little bit," he said. "I was really nervous."
After breezing through two innings on 19 pitches, Liriano was tested in the third, facing a bases-loaded situation after two walks and a throwing error by shortstop Harris. Liriano threw 34 pitches in the inning but got Francisco swinging again to end the threat.
"We made him work a little bit there in the middle innings, but we didn't take advantage of it. That was really the difference for us," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
Liriano threw 96 pitches. Jesse Crain relieved him in the seventh after the Twins pulled ahead 3-0. With his first win in more than two years out of the way, he can concentrate on settling back into his old role.
"That's a good start to having him back in the rotation," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Matt Ginter (1-3), making his fourth start of the season, allowed five runs and five hits in six innings for the Indians.
"In the fifth inning and sixth inning, I got the ball up a little bit," Ginter said. "They made me pay. They put some good swings on the ball."
Francisco hit his 11th home run in the eighth but Span went deep for his second of the season in the bottom half.
|Francisco Liriano throws six scoreless frames to notch his first win since July 23, 2006. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Grady Sizemore, CF||3||0||1||1||2||1||0||.275|
|Jamey Carroll, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.267|
|Ben Francisco, RF||4||1||1||1||0||2||5||.272|
|Jhonny Peralta, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.269|
|Kelly Shoppach, C||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.276|
|Ryan Garko, DH||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.243|
|Franklin Gutierrez, LF||4||1||1||0||0||0||2||.212|
|Andy Gonzalez, 1B||3||0||1||0||1||1||1||.333|
|Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B||3||0||0||0||0||2||2||.203|
|2B - Grady Sizemore (25, Crain)|
|HR - Ben Francisco (11, Guerrier)|
|SH - Asdrubal Cabrera (5)|
|RBI - Grady Sizemore (64), Ben Francisco (40)|
|2-OUT RBI - Grady Sizemore (31)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|DP - Carroll-A. Cabrera-Gonzalez|
|Matt Ginter (L,1-3)||6||5||5||5||2||3||1||5.14|
|IBB - Morneau by Matt Ginter|
|WP - Matt Ginter (2)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Matt Ginter 87-49, Thomas Mastny 16-11, Juan Rincon 20-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Ginter 8-6|
|Batters Faced - Matt Ginter 24, Thomas Mastny 3, Juan Rincon 4|
|Denard Span, RF||4||2||2||1||0||0||0||.315|
|Nick Punto, 2B||4||1||1||1||0||1||0||.284|
|Mike Redmond, C||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.270|
|Justin Morneau, DH||3||0||0||0||1||1||0||.313|
|Jason Kubel, LF||2||1||0||0||1||1||1||.260|
|Delmon Young, LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.293|
|Mike Lamb, 1B||3||1||1||1||0||0||1||.229|
|Brian Buscher, 3B||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.314|
|Brendan Harris, SS||3||1||1||1||0||1||1||.259|
|Carlos Gomez, CF||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.255|
|3B - Nick Punto (3, Ginter), Mike Lamb (3, Ginter)|
|HR - Denard Span (2, Rincon), Brendan Harris (6, Ginter)|
|RBI - Denard Span (12), Nick Punto (20), Mike Lamb (29), Brian Buscher (28), Brendan Harris (37)|
|Team LOB - 1|
|DP - Harris-Punto-Lamb|
|E - Brendan Harris (9, Throwing)|
|Francisco Liriano (W,1-3)||6||3||0||0||3||5||0||7.16|
|Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 96-56, Jesse Crain 24-14, Matt Guerrier 12-10, Dennys Reyes 10-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 8-5, Jesse Crain 1-0, Matt Guerrier 1-1, Dennys Reyes 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 24, Jesse Crain 5, Matt Guerrier 5, Dennys Reyes 3|
|Attendance - 39818|
|Game Time - 2:29|
|Temperature - 68|
|Umpires - Home - Lance Barksdale, First Base - Doug Eddings, Second Base - Ted Barrett, Third Base - Dana DeMuth|