Liriano keeps surging with five shutout innings
Twins lefty cruises, allowing just four hits; Willingham goes deep
TAMPA, Fla. -- Entering Friday's game at George M. Steinbrenner Field, Twins lefty Francisco Liriano had been all but untouchable this spring, while Yankees righty Ivan Nova was still looking to get on track.
Liriano's success continued and Nova started off strong before struggling through his final two frames as a Yankees split squad rallied to beat the Twins, 6-4.
Nova, who entered Friday's game having allowed 11 earned runs on 16 hits in 12 2/3 innings, threw four perfect innings with four strikeouts before the Twins took a 2-0 lead in the fifth. Justin Morneau led off with a double to deep center field, and Josh Willingham homered to left. Nova gave up two more singles in the inning but escaped with no further damage on the scoreboard. He gave up two more runs on three hits in the sixth, both runs scoring on Sean Burroughs' single to left.
In all, the right-hander pitched seven innings and allowed four runs on seven hits and no walks while striking out five.
Liriano, meanwhile, cruised through his five innings, holding the Yankees scoreless and giving up four hits and a walk while striking out five. In 18 innings this spring, Liriano has allowed only four earned runs on 10 hits and three walks with 23 strikeouts.
"Pitching is all about location, and I think I've been locating my pitches better," Liriano said. "Everything's been great so far."
Making his return to the lineup for the first time since March 14 after sitting out with a sore left calf, Derek Jeter singled to right field off Liriano in his first at-bat and grounded into a double play in his second before being replaced by Ramiro Pena in the top of the fourth inning.
The Yankees rallied for five runs in the seventh, highlighted by Eduardo Nunez's two-run double.
Up next for Twins: Right-hander Jason Marquis is scheduled to start on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. CT against the Rays in Fort Myers, Fla., but could miss the game, as he went home to New York to attend to a family matter. Closer Matt Capps is also slated to pitch for the Twins. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson is slated to start for the Rays.
Up next for Yankees: The Yankees will travel to Lakeland, Fla., to face the Tigers on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Freddy Garcia is slated to pitch, making his fourth spring start and his first official start since being struck in the right hand by a ball against the Blue Jays on March 14. Right-hander Max Scherzer will get the start for Detroit. Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Raul Ibanez are among the regulars also slated to make the trip. The two clubs will meet again Sunday in Tampa.