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David Brown

Former Twins great Jack Morris criticizes Francisco Liriano

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MINNEAPOLIS — The things one hears riding in elevators.

On my way back from the clubhouses following the New York Yankees victory in Game 1 of the ALDS, I caught a few moments of the Minnesota Twins' radio network postgame show being piped in.

Jack Morris was talking, and he did not spare Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano(notes) from his disapproval.

For five innings, Liriano appeared to be on his way to a breakthrough performance, one that was answering concerns about Twins manager Ron Gardenhire's decision to use him instead of Carl Pavano(notes) out of the chute.

Then came the sixth inning, when the Twins' three-run lead flipped to a 4-3 deficit.

That's not how ol' Jack operated, so goes the legend crafted from Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

At first, Morris did the old "Not to take anything away from Francisco Liriano" schpiel — which always means what comes next will do the opposite.

And he said: "The good guys never let it slip away, and he let it slip away."

Ouch.

So, after watching Liriano's first career postseason start, I guess Jack doesn't think he is ace quality.

What a crock.

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Morris isn't wrong to say that Liriano let the game slip away. Liriano isn't the only one to blame, but he's on the list.

But to declare that the so-called best pitchers "never" blow leads is simply horse manure. And we need to go no further than Morris' own postseason record to smell it.

Everybody knows how great Morris was against the Braves in '91, especially in the deciding game when he pitched 10 shutout innings. But that's not the whole story.

Morris made 13 career postseason starts. On five occasions he blew a lead.

Morris had a 4.87 ERA in six career starts in the ALCS. He got one start in the '87 ALCS and he stunk. He was horrible in the entire 1992 playoffs with the Blue Jays, who managed to win the World Series despite him.

Liriano is three years younger than Morris was when he made his first career playoff start. Jack should cut him some slack. And Morris should remember: He wasn't perfect. Except for maybe his mustache.

But sometimes, he let games slip away too.

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Follow Dave on Twitter — @AnswerDave

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