With the worst starting rotation ERA in baseball, the Minnesota Twins are turning back to Francisco Liriano - not that he has exactly earned another chance.
Liriano will make his first start since May 7 on Wednesday when the Twins try for a three-game home sweep of the woeful Oakland Athletics, who have lost seven straight.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced Saturday that Liriano (0-5, 8.47 ERA) would get the ball for this afternoon game against the Athletics (22-28). The left-hander was demoted from the rotation after going 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA in his first six starts.
"I'm looking forward to starting. I've always been a starter and that's what I want to do," said Liriano, who will become a free agent after this season. "I'm very happy and just looking forward to trying to do my job, get better and everything."
Liriano didn't inspire much confidence in his last appearance, giving up four runs over 2 2-3 innings of relief during Friday's 10-6 loss to Detroit. Minnesota (17-32), however, has a major league-worst rotation ERA of 6.33, and Gardenhire doesn't have many other options.
"We can't just keep bouncing around from guy to guy to guy to guy,'' the manager said. "We just need Frankie. We said we were going to give him a few shots out of the bullpen, let him calm down a little bit. Now we'll put him back out there and see if we got that pitcher going."
Liriano is 2-3 with a 4.98 ERA in nine career starts against Oakland. He has struck out Brandon Inge more than any other hitter in the majors, as Inge is 4 for 32 with 16 strikeouts against him.
Minnesota is in position to notch its first three-game sweep of the season after former Oakland outfielder Josh Willingham delivered a two-out, three-run homer - his fifth career walkoff shot - in the bottom of the ninth inning off Brian Fuentes in Tuesday's 3-2 win.
"You want to be in that situation whether you get a hit or not,'' said Willingham, who led the Athletics with 98 RBIs last season. "Fortunately I was able to get a hit tonight. I've been on the other end several times as well.''
Oakland's seven-game skid is its longest since a 10-game slide May 30-June 9, 2011. The A's blew a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth of Monday's 5-4 defeat.
"They fight. The effort's there. Every single day," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "It's disappointing, frustrating, the whole bit to be where we are right now. You just have to keep plugging. We were one out away. You just have to keep going."
The A's have totaled 12 runs while batting .180 during their slide. Their .212 average on the season is the worst in the majors.
Oakland starter Tyson Ross (2-5, 5.79) enters this contest coming off consecutive defeats, yielding a career-high three homers and six runs over 4 1-3 innings Friday in a 6-3 loss to the Yankees.
The right-hander is 1-3 with a 7.11 ERA in five road starts.
Ross threw seven pitches in his lone start against Minnesota on May 19, 2011, allowing a single to Denard Span before leaving with a left oblique strain.
Minnesota's last three-game home sweep of Oakland was Aug. 13-15, 2010.