The right-hander seeks to win his fourth straight decision for the Twins on Friday night when they continue a four-game series against the Cleveland Indians at the Metrodome.
With Liriano and Santana leading the way, Minnesota’s starters have keyed the team’s improved play. Radke (7-7, 5.13 ERA)—the oldest member of the rotation at 33—has also been a factor, going 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA over his last five outings.
The winning streak has lowered Radke’s ERA from 6.17 ERA to 5.13, still his highest since his rookie season in 1995. He skipped the team’s trip to Texas last weekend to get a shot in his throwing shoulder in order to get ready for the second half.
“We knew this break came at a pretty good time (for Radke),” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Hopefully, through the treatment that he got before the break and the time off we’ve had now, he’ll be back and ready to go.”
Most of Radke’s success this year has come at home, where he’s 6-2 with a 3.95 ERA in nine starts. One of those losses was to the Indians (41-47) on May 24 when he surrendered six runs and 11 hits over 5 2-3 innings in an 11-0 defeat.
Minnesota (47-40) fell to 1-5 against Cleveland this year as Liriano had his six-game winning streak snapped in a 6-4 loss on Thursday. The left-hander gave up three homers and lasted just five innings, his shortest outing since May 26.
The Twins have dropped five of six since an 11-game winning streak put them a season-high 11 games over .500 on July 3.
Casey Blake returned after missing a month for Cleveland due to a strained muscle in his left side and homered off Liriano. Blake has four homers and 11 RBIs against Minnesota this year.
Although the Indians are in fourth place in the AL Central, they are drawing hope from strong second halves in each of the last two seasons. Last year, Cleveland went 45-22 after the All-Star break and barely missed the postseason.
“We’re going to separate from the first half and come out here and put our heads down and work hard to be the best team that we can be,” manager Eric Wedge said. “And we’ll look up and see where we are at the end.”
Indians slugger Travis Hafner also homered on Thursday and is 11-for-20 with four homers against the Twins this season. Hafner has just four hits in his last 27 at-bats against Radke.
Cleveland starter Paul Byrd (6-6, 4.31) is 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA in six career starts at the Metrodome. This will be his second start of the year against the Twins after he beat them on April 7 despite giving up six runs over six innings in an 11-6 victory at Jacobs Field.
The veteran right-hander enters after one of his worst outings of the season. Byrd gave up a season-high nine runs—four earned—and 10 hits over 3 2-3 innings in an 11-3 loss to the New York Yankees on July 5.