Francisco Liriano is having a turn-back-the-clock season, and he's currently riding a scoreless-innings streak that is probably in line with how old he feels these days -- 21.
For 21 consecutive frames, the 26-year-old Liriano has yet to give up a run, and so his ERA now sits at 3.18 through 21 starts this season. If he keeps it up, the left-hander will finish with his lowest ERA since the 2006 season that introduced him to the world -- after which he finished third in American League Rookie of the Year voting by going 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA, at age 22.
Heading into Spring Training, some felt Liriano wouldn't even nail down the fifth-starter spot, and when Joe Nathan went down for the year with eventual Tommy John surgery, some looked at him to fill in as closer. Now, after tossing 17 quality starts, he's looking like one of Minnesota's sure-fire aces.
"I'm very confident," Liriano said after his last start, when he hurled seven shutout innings and struck out 11 Mariners batters. "I'm just trying to go out there and do my job and not try to overdo things."
Liriano will look to keep a 21-inning scoreless streak going against an Indians team he's 3-0 against with a 1.23 ERA in three starts this season.
Fresh off back-to-back wins against the Rays at Tropicana Field, the Twins remained 1 1/2 games back of the first-place White Sox following their 8-6 lucky-bounce victory on Thursday afternoon.
"That's huge -- on the road, especially -- to be able to come back and show that we're not going to give up," Twins starter Kevin Slowey said after a game decided by Jason Kubel's two-out, ninth-inning popup-turned-single off Tropicana Field's A-Ring catwalk. "At no point in the game do we feel like it's over, and really regardless of the score or what may be happening. They came back and put together a big inning. They did. There's no way around that. And we were able to come right back, with a little help from the dome."
Now, they'll continue their 10-game road trip in Cleveland before a critical road series against the White Sox beginning Tuesday.
Cleveland, coming off a four-game split against the Red Sox, will look to get back on the winning track after a 6-2 loss without catcher Carlos Santana. After a collision at home plate with Red Sox outfielder Ryan Kalish on Monday, the catcher will have surgery on his left knee Friday morning, keeping him out the rest of the season.
"Not good news, but it could have been worse; regardless, we thought he would miss the rest of the season anyways," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "The bad part about it is that he is going to lose two months of development and getting to know the pitchers on our staff and the opposition, too. The good thing is he is going to get the surgery and be ready for Spring Training."
Twins: Friday an important one for Hudson
Friday could be the final test for Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson before he's activated off the 15-day disabled list. The switch-hitting Hudson, out since July 23 because of a right oblique strain, has been hitting right-handed on the field this week but only left-handed in the batting cage. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said hitting left-handed in batting practice will prove whether Hudson is ready to return, so Hudson will take part in early BP on Friday in hopes of determining that. ... After finishing up against the Rays, the Twins won't host an American League East team until Sept. 30. Against the AL East, Minnesota is 14-18, compared to 27-15 against the AL Central and 15-5 against the AL West.
Indians: This time, Gomez will be rested
When right-hander Jeanmar Gomez started for the Indians on Sunday, he was going on three days' rest after hurling seven innings for Triple-A Columbus. But the 22-year-old right-hander was still effective, giving up two runs in five innings to move to 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his first two Major League starts. Gomez became just the fifth pitcher to win his first two starts as a member of the Indians since 1922. For start No. 3, he'll be going on his normal four days' rest.
The Indians acquired catcher Juan Apodaca and infielder Argenis Reyes from the Red Sox for cash before Thursday's game. Both had been at Triple-A Pawtucket. ... Twins reliever Jon Rauch left Tropicana Field before Thursday's game to visit a doctor for the second straight day because of blisters on his hands. Rauch had hand, foot and mouth disease, usually a minor illness that causes a few days of fever and mild symptoms, such as rashes and blisters. Symptoms usually last three days to a week. ... Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo's home run Thursday extended Cleveland's streak to 58 games with an extra-base hit, best in the big leagues.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.