Liriano (12-2, 1.96 ERA) was scratched from his scheduled start last Wednesday against the Texas Rangers because of discomfort in his left forearm. Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson said it was a precautionary move to not risk damage to the 22-year-old rookie’s arm.
“The kid, you don’t want to mess with him,” Anderson said. “If we run him out there and it’s not 100 percent and something happens, you’ll never forgive yourself.”
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire says he doesn’t plan to place any limitations on Liriano’s start
“If he warms up fine and everything goes good, we’ll know he’s all right,” Gardenhire said. “Obviously, we’ll take him out if he says anything is bothering him, but we don’t anticipate that happening.”
Liriano is 1-2 with a 6.94 ERA in three appearances, including one start, against Detroit.
The Twins (65-45) are coming off a four-game sweep of the Kansas City Royals, winning 11-5 on Sunday. Justin Morneau was 6-for-16 (.375) over the series and picked up his 98th RBI—good for second in the American League— with an eighth-inning single.
Despite having won 18 of their last 23 games and a franchise record eight straight on the road, the Twins haven’t gained much ground on the Tigers (75-36), who have a nine-game lead in the AL Central over the second-place Chicago White Sox. The Twins are one-half game behind Chicago.
Minnesota is 3-9 against Detroit this season and was swept in a three-game series at Comerica Park from April 28-30. The nine losses are the Twins’ most against any team this season.
The Tigers nearly posted another sweep of the Twins last week at the Metrodome, where the Twins used a six-run eighth-inning rally July 30 to avert it. Liriano pitched eight innings in the opener of that series July 28—his most recent start—and allowed two runs while tying a career high with 12 strikeouts. He did not receive a decision, however, in the 3-2 loss.
“He’s filthy,” Zach Miner, the Tigers starter for Monday, said of Liriano. “He throws fastballs that look like breaking balls.”
Miner (6-2, 4.03) is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA in his last four starts and has not won since July 16. He struggled Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, giving up three runs and tying a career high with three walks in 5 2-3 innings. Miner did not factor in the decision, however, as the Tigers won 8-3.
The rookie right-hander’s only appearance against the Twins was against Liriano. Miner pitched six innings, allowing two runs while striking out five, but did not factor in the decision.
“I think both of us had something to prove out there,” Miner said of the matchup.
The Tigers completed a weekend sweep of the Cleveland Indians with a 1-0 win Sunday. Wilfredo Ledezma pitched 5 2-3 innings in his first start of the season, and Craig Monroe’s fifth-inning RBI single scored the game’s only run.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland opted for Ledezma instead of Justin Verlander, who will instead pitch the opener of Detroit’s weekend series against the Chicago White Sox on Friday.