|Minnesota (14-6) «||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||0||0||2||5||0|
DETROIT -- Francisco Liriano is looking and feeling good.
Liriano pitched eight scoreless innings, leading the Minnesota Twins to a 2-0 victory against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night in a start reminiscent of some from his dazzling rookie season in 2006.
"I had a lot of pitches working," he said. "That felt good."
Liriano (3-0) struck out 10, gave up the first of four hits in the fifth and walked one. Jon Rauch closed the game for his seventh save.
Liriano, who lowered his ERA to 0.93, got enough run support thanks in part to Detroit's shoddy defense.
Left fielder Ryan Raburn dropped what would've been the third out of the sixth to let Jim Thome score from first after he walked. Raburn seemed to get distracted by charging center fielder Austin Jackson just before the ball bounced off the heel of his glove.
"Thome running around the bases is always entertaining," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He only has one speed, and it just isn't as fast as most other guys."
"Sizemore probably panicked a little," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
Leyland and Justin Verlander, though, refused to blame the errors for the loss.
"They've kept me in some games I've had no right being in," Verlander said. "Is it tough? Yeah. I'm sure those guys will be the first to tell you that, but this is a team game."
Minnesota played the Tigers for the first time since beating them in the 163rd game last year to win the AL Central.
The division-leading Twins (14-6) probably will be tough to beat again this season, winning the first six series of a season for the first time in franchise history, especially if Liriano keeps pitching the way he did before elbow surgery stunted his career.
Minnesota has to hope, though, Justin Morneau's stiff back isn't going to be a lingering problem. The star first baseman didn't play after the fifth inning, but Gardenhire said the move was made for precautionary reasons.
The 2006 AL MVP played his final game last season on Sept. 12 because of a back injury.
"It isn't anything serious or related to last year," Gardenhire said.
Liriano extended his scoreless innings streak to 23 in the series opener at Detroit. He finished with his highest strikeout total since matching a career high of 12 against Detroit on July 28, 2006. That year, he went 12-3 in 16 starts and struck out 144 in 121 innings.
"I've had a couple 10-strikeout games in the Dominican since then, but that's really not the same," he said.
He missed the 2007 season recovering from Tommy John surgery and won a combined 11 games the past two seasons.
The Tigers were helpless at the plate against him -- often striking out looking -- until Miguel Cabrera led off the fifth with a double that was just out of Denard Span's reach in center. Detroit finished with five hits overall.
"He was tremendous," Leyland said.
Verlander (1-2) was pretty good, too.
He gave up an unearned run, struck out a season-high seven over 5 2/3 innings, allowed a season-low four hits and walked three. He had a 6.95 ERA entering the game.
"It's definitely a big step," Verlander said. "I felt 10 times better overall than I had at any point."
Verlander said the key was making an adjustment during his delivering to stay more upright.
"I found what I was missing," he said.
|Francisco Liriano strikes out 10 during eight scoreless innings for the Twins. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Denard Span, CF||4||0||1||0||1||1||1||.231|
|Alexi Casilla, 3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.167|
|Orlando Hudson, 2B||5||0||1||0||0||1||4||.272|
|Joe Mauer, C||5||0||0||0||0||1||3||.356|
|Justin Morneau, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||3||3||.352|
|Delmon Young, LF||0||0||0||0||2||0||0||.245|
|Michael Cuddyer, RF-1B^CF||5||1||0||0||0||1||2||.305|
|Jason Kubel, LF-RF||3||0||1||0||1||2||0||.177|
|Jim Thome, DH||1||1||1||0||3||0||0||.257|
|J.J. Hardy, SS||4||0||1||0||0||0||4||.216|
|Brendan Harris, 3B-1B||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.184|
|2B - Jason Kubel (2, Verlander), J.J. Hardy (2, Verlander)|
|3B - Denard Span (1, Verlander)|
|Team LOB - 12|
|DP - Hudson-Hardy-Morneau|
|Francisco Liriano (W,3-0)||8||4||0||0||1||10||0||0.93|
|Jon Rauch (S,7)||1||1||0||0||0||2||0||1.80|
|Pitches-Strikes - Francisco Liriano 112-74, Jon Rauch 18-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Francisco Liriano 8-5, Jon Rauch 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Francisco Liriano 28, Jon Rauch 4|
|Austin Jackson, CF||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.314|
|Johnny Damon, DH||4||0||2||0||0||0||1||.329|
|Magglio Ordonez, RF||4||0||0||0||0||1||2||.278|
|Miguel Cabrera, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||2||1||.357|
|Brandon Inge, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||3||2||.256|
|Ryan Raburn, LF||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.212|
|Gerald Laird, C||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.152|
|Scott Sizemore, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||1||2||.255|
|Ramon Santiago, SS||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.310|
|2B - Johnny Damon (8, Liriano), Miguel Cabrera (10, Liriano)|
|Team LOB - 5|
|DP - Inge-Sizemore-Cabrera|
|E - Ryan Raburn (2, Dropped fly), Ramon Santiago (2, Misplayed grounder), Scott Sizemore (4, Throwing)|
|Justin Verlander (L,1-2)||5.2||4||1||0||3||7||0||5.53|
|HBP - Harris (by Eddie Bonine)|
|WP - Justin Verlander (1)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Justin Verlander 121-71, Eddie Bonine 12-4, Fu-Te Ni 37-20, Ryan Perry 8-3|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Justin Verlander 8-4, Fu-Te Ni 3-2, Ryan Perry 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Justin Verlander 26, Eddie Bonine 2, Fu-Te Ni 11, Ryan Perry 2|
|Attendance - 22008|
|Game Time - 2:51|
|Temperature - 52|
|Umpires - Home - Paul Emmel, First Base - Gary Darling, Second Base - Mike Estabrook, Third Base - Bruce Dreckman|