Francisco Liriano represents everything the Twins organization tries to sell us. Namely, "Hope for the Future". Well, the future is now.
We can all pretty much quote his stats from the 2006 season (12-3, 2.16 ERA in 121 IP), and if you have a good memory, you can pretty easily recall his stat line from earlier this year (0-3, 11.32 ERA in 10 1/3 IP). Now, if you didn't know the second version of Liriano was coming off Tommy John surgery, you'd think he lost it. But his showing in Triple-A points to a man who has regained form, confidence, swagger and dominance. By throwing 118 innings of sheer precision, Liriano has re-established himself as the heir apparent to Santana's throne. He whiffed 108 batters and went 10-2 with a 3.28 ERA in his stint, and is ready for his start today.
He'll face Matt Ginter and the Cleveland Indians today (At 1:10 on your local WFTC station, Ch. 29). Chances are he'll fare pretty well, too - the majority of the team hits worse than .270 vs. left-handed pitchers and hasn't seen a healthy Liriano in nearly two seasons. Should be fun.
By the way, Kevin Slowey was very Radke-like in his performance last night, giving up a couple of two-run home runs, but pitching pretty decent in his six-inning, six-hit outing otherwise. He managed to strike out seven, but didn't get any run support in the 5-1 loss.
Cleveland's Paul Byrd generally has the Twins' number, and ran his win streak to three games, pitching seven sharp-as-a-tack innings. Byrd gave up just one run, but as predicted, gave the Twins opportunities with eight baserunners over that span.
Denard Span and Delmon Young each picked up a couple of hits while the no. 2-5 hitters went a combined 0-for-13. Certainly not a recipe for success.
We'll hope for better luck, and a series win today.
One minor league note today - Phil Humber of the Rochester affiliate dominated last night, going eight strong innings and striking out nine batters in a 4-1 win over Lehigh Valley. In his past two starts, Humber has pitched 20 2/3 innings, giving up just four runs. Looks like someone else may be pushing for a big-league callup in September...
Minor League Notes and more good stuff from the Twins Hotspot coming tomorrow!