Improved play on the road has the Minnesota Twins steadily closing in on the AL Central lead.
The Twins look to continue their recent success away from home as they go for a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers on Sunday night.
Minnesota dropped 19 of its first 26 road contests but is 12-5 away from the Metrodome since June 9. The Twins won their last four road games, a season high.
“We started out so bad, but we knew that was an aberration,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We knew we weren’t that bad a road team. Now we’re trying to make up ground and get back even on the road.”
That improvement has come at the right time. The Twins (47-44) are two games into a 10-game trip that begins a stretch in which they play only six of 25 at the Metrodome.
Liriano suffered his first loss in nearly a month his last time out, allowing six runs - three earned - in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-4 defeat July 9 to the visiting New York Yankees. He has pitched much better in his last seven starts, posting a 3.95 ERA.
The left-hander, 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in three appearances versus the Rangers, will make his second career start against them and first since pitching seven innings in a 4-0 victory July 8, 2006.
Liriano hopes to benefit from his teammates’ recent hot hitting.
Carlos Gomez(notes) is 9 for 15 (.600) with nine RBIs during a five-game hit streak. Like Gomez, Justin Morneau(notes) has three straight multihit performances for the Twins, who batted .300 while winning four of the last five.
Texas hasn’t been nearly as productive at the plate. The Rangers hit .192 while dropping five of six and were outscored 18-8 in losing their last four.
The Rangers (48-41) were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position in Saturday night’s 4-1 defeat, and have gone 2 for 22 during their slide as they’ve fallen three games behind first-place Los Angeles in the AL West.
Texas scored its only run Saturday on Nelson Cruz’s(notes) team-leading 23rd homer, his fifth in 11 games. Cruz went 3 for 4, giving the Rangers only their fourth multihit performance during the skid.
Holland, expected to remain in the rotation until the Rangers can acquire a replacement, is 1-4 with a 6.23 ERA in seven starts this season.