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Liriano hopes he's back on track

The Sports Xchange
 
Roster Report · Notes, Quotes · Liriano hopes he's back on track
 

Francisco Liriano has been fabulous in two of his past three starts, and the Twins are hoping it's a sign of things to come. In fact, Liriano is, too.

The left-hander finally rebounded from 2007 Tommy John surgery last season, going 14-10 with a 3.62 ERA, which prompted the Twins to sign him to a one-year, $4.3 million contract. But this season started with a spring training injury and a series of woeful starts.

"The first couple games, I was pitching different from the way I used to pitch -- pitching to contact. That's not the way I know how to pitch. And I wasn't feeling that good pitching like that," Liriano said.

He threw a six-walk no-hitter May 3 against the White Sox in Chicago, his first professional complete game, and on Tuesday, he outdueled 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez. The Twins won 2-1 in Seattle, snapping their nine-game losing streak.

By adding a 4-3, 10-inning win Wednesday at Oakland, the Twins have won back-to-back games for the first time since winning three straight May 3-6. Carl Pavano pitched well Wednesday, giving Minnesota consecutive quality starts from their top two starters.

They'll need more of that if they want to rally into contention in the AL Central, where they trail first-place Cleveland by 12 1/2 games.

Liriano has been either spectacular (1.20 ERA in his three wins) or awful (11.50 ERA in his five losses). The Twins would settle for a happy medium. Because his stuff is so good, particularly his slider, there is a common perception that his major issue is mental.

Liriano said it's not that simple; mind and body can't be separated.

"Sometimes, when my body doesn't feel that well, I can't control myself -- I try to do too much, I put too much pressure on myself," he said. "Instead of pitching with what I have that day, I try to create something that isn't there. It's mental and physical."

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