Liriano will be trying to turn in a third straight strong outing on Friday when the Twins open a three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at the Metrodome.
Liriano (2-3, 6.55 ERA) is making his sixth start of the season and third since being recalled from the minors. He has won both of his starts since returning to the majors, throwing six scoreless innings to beat Cleveland before giving up three runs in 5 2-3 innings in Saturday’s 7-3 victory at Kansas City.
“My slider was good and my changeup was good,” he said.
Liriano was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 2006, but missed last season after undergoing elbow ligament replacement surgery. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the left-hander has yet to display the dominant form he showed two years ago - but he’s getting there.
“He’s working at it,” Gardenhire said. “His velocity isn’t the same. He’s not quite back to where he was a couple of years ago, but with what he has he is probably better than a lot of guys. He is a force on the mound.”
Liriano is 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts against the Mariners (46-74), both of which came in 2006.
The Twins (67-53) took two of three from the New York Yankees this week, capped by Wednesday’s 4-2 victory. Minnesota, which is 25-8 at home since June 1, has won 12 of 18 overall to get within one game of the Chicago White Sox for the AL Central lead.
“We’re winning series, and that’s all that matters,” catcher Joe Mauer told the Twins’ official Web site. “That’s what we set out to do ever since spring.”
Delmon Young hit a three-run homer for the second straight day and went 5-for-9 in the final two games of the series. Young is hitting .307 with four homers and 16 RBIs since the All-Star game after batting .286 with three homers and 36 RBIs before the break.
Now, Young will be up against former Twins starter Carlos Silva (4-13, 5.93), who is facing his old team for the first time since leaving in the offseason to sign a $48 million, four-year contract with Seattle. The right-hander went 47-45 for the Twins from 2004-07, but has struggled since joining the Mariners.
Silva is tied for the most losses in the AL and has just one win since April 17. He gave up five runs in six innings of Friday’s 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay, after which he called out Seattle’s position players for at least the third time this season.
“I can talk about the starting rotation - every time we cross the line we want to do our best. … Maybe half of the team don’t have that mentality,” he said.
Silva’s only previous appearance against the Twins came on June 23, 2002 while he was with Philadelphia. He gave up three runs in two innings of relief but didn’t get a decision in the Phillies’ 5-1 home loss.
The Mariners ended a four-game losing streak on Wednesday, beating the Los Angeles Angels 10-7 in 12 innings. Wladimir Balentien hit the go-ahead, three-run homer for Seattle, while Raul Ibanez went 4-for-5 with a homer.
“The Angels usually find a way to win, and that’s what we need to do - not just be satisfied to play with teams of that caliber,” Ibanez said. “That’s what (interim manager Jim) Riggleman’s been stressing to us every game - that we’re capable of being a really good team.”
The Mariners took two of three at home against Minnesota in the first series between the teams this season from Aug. 4-6.