MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JUNE 12: Francisco Liriano #47 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Texas Rangers during the second inning of their game on June 12, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Rangers At Twins: Minnesota Defeats Texas, 6-1, Behind Francisco Liriano

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Twins Cut AL Central Deficit To Nine With 6-1 Win Over Rangers

On Sunday afternoon, Francisco Liriano flashed some of the brilliance that Twins fans had become accustomed to prior to his Tommy John surgery. The mercurial left-hander took a no-hitter into the eighth inning, and was perfect through six as the Minnesota Twins took their third game out of a four-game set with the Texas Rangers by a score of 6-1 at Target Field.

The Twins got an early lead in this one against Rangers' starter Matt Harrison, as Luke Hughes came through with a two-out single to score Ben Revere in the bottom of the first to stake Liriano to a 1-0 lead.

And, really, that was basically all of the offensive action for the first six innings of this one. The Rangers kept sending guys to the plate, and Liriano kept setting them down. He retired the first eighteen Texas Rangers he faced in order, and he got some help defensively to get there. In the top of the second, Rangers' third baseman Adrian Beltre lifted a fly ball down the right field line that Jason Repko made a brilliant diving catch on for the second out. In the top of the fourth, Ian Kinsler led off the inning with a smash to the left side of the infield, but Hughes made a diving stop and gunned Kinsler down at first.

In the top of the seventh, Liriano retired Kinsler for the first out, and shortstop Elvis Andrus bounced one to Hughes at third. Hughes attempted to backhand the ball, but it bounced off of his glove and into foul territory. The play was scored an error, preserving the no-hit bid, and Andrus wound up at second base, where he was stranded after Liriano retired Josh Hamilton and Michael Young.

The Twins blew things open offensively in the bottom of the seventh inning. Danny Valencia led off the inning with a line drive that glanced off of Harrison's arm, reaching on the infield single and knocking Harrison out of the game. Reliever Mark Lowe came into the game and got Repko to ground out to shortstop for the first out, but in the next at-bat, Andrus threw wildly to first on Rene Rivera's ground ball. The E-6 left Rivera at first and allowed Valencia to score, padding the Twins' lead to 2-0.

Matt Tolbert then fouled out to Beltre at third, and Lowe struck out Ben Revere to end the inning. . .at least, it would have ended the inning had the ball not gotten away from catcher Yorvit Torrealba. On the miscue, Revere hustled down to first base, and Rivera advanced to second, allowing an inning that should have been over to continue.

The Twins took full advantage of the extra out they were given, as Alexi Casilla continued his hot hitting with a single to left field to score Rivera, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead and keeping runners at first and second. The next batter, Michael Cuddyer, launched an offering from Lowe over the wall in left field for a three-run homer, his ninth of the season, to increase Minnesota's lead to 6-0. The Twins had an opportunity to add more, as Delmon Young and Luke Hughes chased Lowe with consecutive singles, but Yoshinori Tateyama got Valencia, who led off the inning, to fly out to center for the third out.

Through all of this, Liriano sat in the dugout. . .and waited. . .and waited. Between the injury to Harrison, the Twins' offense blowing up, and the singing of God Bless America between innings, Liriano went nearly half an hour between pitches. He faced Adrian Beltre to lead off the top of the eighth, immediately got behind 3-0, and after a "get me over" fastball for a strike, Beltre lined a solid single to center field to end Liriano's bid for a second no-hitter this season. After a wild pitch allowed Beltre to move to second and a strikeout of Nelson Cruz, Torrealba singled to center and score Beltre, making the score 6-1 and ending the shutout bid for Liriano as well.

Despite only throwing 97 pitches on the afternoon, Liriano did not come out for the ninth inning, being lifted by manager Ron Gardenhire for Alex Burnett. Burnett pitched a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, and the Twins came away with their ninth victory in the last eleven games.

Liriano's start was impressive, regardless of how you slice it. In eight innings of work, he allowed just the two hits and one run while striking out nine and, shockingly. . .this season, anyway. . .not walking a single hitter. The victory raises Liriano's record on the 2011 season to 4-6, and his ERA has dropped to 4.67.  Harrison took the loss for the Rangers after allowing five hits and two runs (one earned) in six innings of work. His record on the season is now 5-6.

On Monday, the Twins will get their first day off since May 26, as they prepare to host a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field. That series will kick off on Tuesday, June 14, with first pitch from Target Field scheduled for 7:10 PM Central. The tentative pitching match-up currently features Carl Pavano (3-5, 4.54 ERA) for the Twins squaring off against Gavin Floyd (6-5, 3.89 ERA) for the White Sox.


Liriano Loses No-Hit Bid In Eighth Inning

Well, the official scorer doesn't have anything to worry about after all.

Adrian Beltre led off the bottom of the eighth inning for the Texas Rangers with a solid single to center field, ending Francisco Liriano's bid for a second no-hitter this season. Liriano had a perfect game through 6.1 innings pitched, and took the no-hit bid into the top of the eighth against the defending American League champions.

Liriano fell behind Beltre 3-0 to start the at-bat, laid a "get me over" fastball up there to get a strike, and Beltre lined the 3-1 offering to Ben Revere in center field for the Rangers' first hit of the afternoon.

On the bright side, the Twins have built up a 6-0 lead on the Rangers thanks to various Texas miscues, and are on track to cut their deficit in the American League Central to nine games as the Cleveland Indians are getting blown out by the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers have already lost to the Seattle Mariners this afternoon.


Liriano Loses Perfect Game, Keeps No-Hitter On "Error" By Luke Hughes

In his no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox on May 3, Francisco Liriano got a little bit of help from one of the umpires, as they called a White Sox runner out on a play where replay clearly showed that first baseman Justin Morneau missed a tag.

If he manages to hold on to his no-hitter today against the Texas Rangers, he may have to write a thank you card to the official scorer.

In the top of the seventh inning with one out, Rangers' shortstop Elvis Andrus hit a ground ball to third baseman Luke Hughes. Here's what the play looked like:



Now, that might have been a play that Hughes could have made, but he might have had a tough time getting somebody with Andrus' speed. Andrus wound up on second base on the play, but was stranded there by Liriano. I'm not sure if I would have called that an error, but that's what the official scorer went with.

The Twins have given Liriano significantly more padding in their half of the seventh, as they've put up five runs so far to extend their lead to 6-0, and they're still hitting as the Rangers are making their second pitching change of the inning. Hopefully Liriano is finding a way to stay warm.


Minnesota Twins' Francisco Liriano Takes No-Hitter To Eighth Inning

Minnesota Twins' left-hander Francisco Liriano, who has already thrown one no-hitter this season, is angling for a second one as he takes a no-hitter into the top of the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers.

Liriano was perfect through the first six innings, but lost the bid for a perfect game with one out in the seventh inning when Twins' third baseman Luke Hughes committed an error on a ground ball by Rangers' shortstop Elvis Andrus. Liriano then retired Josh Hamilton and Michael Young to get out of the seventh inning without allowing a hit.

Liriano pitched a no-hitter this season on May 3 at U.S. Cellular Field against the Chicago White Sox in a game that the Twins won 1-0. The Twins currently lead this one 1-0 as well, courtesy of Hughes' two-out RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. While Liriano had control problems in his first no-hitter, he has had no such difficulties today, striking out eight Rangers without surrendering a walk. Liriano has thrown just 73 pitches to get to this point. In his no-hitter against the White Sox, he walked six and needed 123 pitches to complete the game.

Again, as we play the bottom of the seventh inning at Target Field, Francisco Liriano is working a no-hitter against the defending American League champion Texas Rangers. We will keep you updated on the status of the game as it progresses.


Twins Blow Out Rangers As Baker Shines

A day after the Texas Rangers lit up the Minnesota Twins for a seven-run inning, the Twins returned the favor, plating five runs in the first and not allowing Rangers' starter Colby Lewis to escape the second inning in an 8-1 thumping of the Rangers on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.

Despite once again fielding a lineup that did not include Denard Span, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, or Jim Thome, the Twins battered Lewis around, touching him up for six runs on seven hits in just 1.1 innings of work. Ben Revere and Alexi Casilla led off the inning for the Twins with consecutive singles, with Revere advancing to third on Casilla's hit and coming in to score on Michael Cuddyer's sacrifice fly. A Delmon Young single to left allowed Casilla to advance to third, and Casilla came in to score after Lewis uncorked a wild pitch, making the score 2-0.

After Rene Tosoni and Danny Valencia drew consecutive walks to load the bases, Brian Dinkelman came through with a base hit to right center to score both Young and Tosoni, giving the Twins a quick 4-0 lead. After Rene Rivera flew out, Matt Tolbert came through with a two-out single to score Valencia and give the Twins a 5-0 lead. Revere, the tenth man to the plate in the inning, then grounded out to end things for the Twins.

The Twins added another run in the second after Casilla doubled to lead off the inning, and stole third after Michael Cuddyer struck out. Delmon Young then singled to center to score Casilla, and increase the Twins' lead to 6-0. That was all for Lewis, as Rangers' manager Ron Washington called Dave Bush on to relieve his starter.

Minnesota was at it again in the bottom of the fourth, when Revere led off the inning with a single and proceeded to steal second. Casilla then laced a single to right to score Revere and make the Minnesota lead 7-0. The Twins' final run came in the bottom of the seventh, when Cuddyer started the inning with a double off of Bush, ending his afternoon. Delmon Young then stepped in and greeted new pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama with a double to score Cuddyer, padding the Twins' lead to 8-0.

The Rangers lone run came in the top of the eighth, when Mike Napoli singled to center with two outs, and advanced to second on fielder's indifference. David Murphy then singled to right, scoring Napoli and breaking up the shutout for Baker as the score changed to 8-1.

The offensive explosion by the Twins was not enough to overshadow the brilliant start put together by Scott Baker, who earned his first complete game victory since August of 2009 with his performance. Baker scattered just five hits on the afternoon and allowed the single run while striking out seven and not walking anybody. The win for Baker gives him consecutive victories for the first time since August of 2010. More importantly, with the Indians' loss today, the Twins have cut their deficit in the American League Central to ten games.

The loss for Lewis dropped his record on the season to 5-7.

The Twins have already assured themselves of at least a split in this four-game series, and will go for the outright victory. . .which would be their third in a row. . .on Sunday afternoon at Target Field, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:10 PM Central time. Mercurial left-hander Francisco Liriano (3-6, 5.20 ERA) will take the mound for the Twins, and he will be opposed by Rangers' left-hander Matt Harrison (5-4, 3.26 ERA).


Rangers Get First Target Field Victory In Thrashing Of Twins

The Texas Rangers put a screeching halt to their seven-game losing streak at Target Field on Friday night, scoring seven runs in the second inning and chasing Minnesota Twins starter Brian Duensing en route to a 9-3 victory over the Twins on Friday evening at Target Field.

Fielding a lineup that didn't have any sign of Denard Span (concussion), Justin Morneau (wrist soreness), Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel, or Jim Thome, the Twins' offense just didn't have enough gas to keep up with the Texas offense, who scored early and often against Duensing. The Rangers sent eleven men to the plate in their seven-run second inning, and Duensing did not come back out for the third, having been replaced by Anthony Swarzak. Only three of the seven runs the Rangers scored were earned runs, thanks to errors by Jason Repko and Alexi Casilla, but it was still enough to knock out Duensing, who was sent to his sixth loss in his last seven decisions.

Matt Tolbert, Michael Cuddyer, and Drew Butera each drove in one run for the Twins, who lost for just the second time in their last nine games.

The loss for Duensing dropped his record on the season to 3-6 on the season. Swarzak pitched six innings in relief, allowing two runs and six hits in that time. Jim Hoey also pitched a perfect inning in relief. The victory for the Rangers went to starter C.J. Wilson, who now has a record of 7-3 on the season, having scattered eight hits and allowing three runs in the victory for Texas.

The same two teams will get together at Target Field on Saturday afternoon, with first pitch scheduled for 3:10 PM Central time in Minneapolis. The Rangers will start right-hander Colby Lewis (5-6, 4.37 ERA), while the Twins will turn to right-hander Scott Baker (3-4, 3.86 ERA).


Twins Walk Off With Victory Over Rangers, 5-4

The Twins lost a lead late on Thursday night against the Texas Rangers, but they refused to give up, and were rewarded with a 5-4 victory when Alexi Casilla singled home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

Things got off to a rocky start for the Twins and starter Nick Blackburn, as he gave up a solo home run to Josh Hamilton with two out in the bottom of the first to give the Rangers an early 1-0 lead. The Twins got that run back in the bottom of the second, when Delmon Young led off the frame with a solo home run of his own, this one off of Rangers' starter Derek Holland.

The Twins took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth. Rene Rivera and Matt Tolbert reached base to give the Twins runners on first and second with nobody out, but Ben Revere bunted into a fielder's choice that saw Rivera forced out at third, and Alexi Casilla grounded into a fielder's choice that saw Revere forced out at second. So, with runners on the corners and two out, Michael Cuddyer decided that he had seen quite enough, and blasted an offering from Holland over the wall in center field for a three-run homer, giving the Twins a 4-1 lead.

In the top of the sixth, Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton grounded one back to Blackburn, who threw wildly to first, allowing Hamilton to advance to second. After Michael Young struck out, Adrian Beltre singled to center to score Hamilton and make the score 4-2. After an error by Danny Valencia on a grounder by Nelson Cruz gave the Rangers runners on the corners, Mitch Moreland lifted a sacrifice fly to center to score Beltre and cut the Minnesota lead to 4-3.

Blackburn took the mound for the start of the eighth inning, and after retiring Beltre on a groundout, Nelson Cruz hit one that might not have come down yet, a solo blast that tied the game at four. Blackburn was then lifted for Jose Mijares, who allowed back-to-back singles to Moreland and Yorvit Torrealba, and was lifted for Alex Burnett. Burnett got a fielder's choice groundout from pinch-hitter Craig Gentry, and then hit Elvis Andrus with a pitch to load the bases. Ron Gardenhire then brought in left-hander Chuck James to face David Murphy, but Rangers' manager Ron Washington lifted Murphy for pinch-hitter Mike Napoli. However, James got Napoli to ground into a fielder's choice to Casilla at shortstop, and the threat was halted.

After James and Jim Hoey combined to set the Rangers down in the top of the ninth, Luke Hughes led off the bottom of the ninth with a ground rule double down the left field line. Brian Dinkelman pinch-hit for Rivera, and went down on strikes against Rangers' reliever Mark Lowe. After Matt Tolbert was able to work Lowe for a walk, 206-year old left-hander Arthur Rhodes came into the game to face Ben Revere. Revere flew out to left for the Twins' second out, and Casilla went up to bat against Rhodes. Casilla lined a 2-1 offering from Rhodes into left field deep enough for Hughes to come around and score, and the Twins had their seventh victory in their last eight ball games.

Hoey wound up getting the victory for the Twins, his first win of the year, raising his record to 1-2. Lowe took the loss from the Rangers, evening his record at 1-1. Neither starter figured into the decision, as Holland allowed four runs on eight hits in 7.1 innings, striking out ten in the process, while Blackburn allowed four runs on ten hits in 7.1 innings, striking out six. Each pitcher allowed two home runs on the evening.

The same two teams will get together at Target Field on Friday night, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM. The Rangers will send left-hander C.J. Wilson (6-3, 3.03 ERA) to the mound, while the Twins will give the ball to lefty Brian Duensing (3-5, 4.73 ERA).

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