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News » Rays-Twins Preview 2009-04-28

Rays-Twins Preview 2009-04-28

Rays-Twins Preview 2009-04-28
The Minnesota Twins expected Francisco Liriano to be their ace, but he has already matched his loss total from 14 outings last season.

The Twins hope Liriano can end his struggles Tuesday night when they continue a three-game home set against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Liriano (0-4, 7.06 ERA) successfully returned to baseball in 2008, going 6-4 with a 3.91 ERA after missing all of 2007 due to elbow surgery. Minnesota (9-11) handed him the ball on opening day this year, but Liriano has dropped all four of his starts.

The left-hander was tagged for seven runs over four innings Wednesday in a 7-3 loss at Boston.

"Yeah, it's bothering me, but it's a long season," he said.

Liriano is 2-0 with a 0.57 ERA in two career starts versus Tampa Bay (8-12), and Minnesota believes he can turn things around quickly.

"His stuff's good," manager Ron Gardenhire told the Twins' official Web site. "A couple of games, he should have at least come out with ties."

Liriano will be trying to slow down the Rays' Carlos Pena after the slugger homered and drove in three runs in a 7-1 victory for Tampa Bay on Monday. Pena has nine homers to lead the majors and 24 RBIs to lead the AL.

Evan Longoria added two hits and scored two runs to maintain his hot start to the year. Longoria is batting .371 for the season and 15 of his 17 RBIs have come on the road.

Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett had two hits for his seventh multihit effort of the year. He is batting .371 - which would rank as the sixth-highest average in April by any AL shortstop since 1998.

"I'm just feeling good," Bartlett told the Rays' official Web site. "Everybody goes through a stretch where they are feeling good, and mine just happens to be the first month. I'm just going to try to keep it going."

Minnesota's relievers had their scoreless innings streak snapped at 11 on Monday when R.A. Dickey allowed two runs in the eighth. The Twins bullpen had the worst ERA in baseball at 7.62 before the scoreless run.

Gardenhire said center fielder Carlos Gomez will leave the team Tuesday to fly to Florida where his wife will give birth to the couple's first child. Gomez will rejoin the Twins on Friday.

Tampa Bay will start James Shields (2-2, 3.67), who failed to earn a third straight win Thursday despite pitching very well. He allowed one run - a homer by Ichiro Suzuki to lead off the game - over 7 1-3 innings in a 1-0 loss at Seattle.

"The first hitter of the game? The second pitch? I'll take that all day. If that's all I give up in a game, I'm doing my job," Shields said.

The right-hander is 1-0 with a 6.26 ERA in four career outings against Minnesota. Twins designated hitter Jason Kubel is 6-for-10 with four RBIs against Shields.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 28, 2009

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