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Updated: March 19th, 2011 12:12am
Live from Florida, Day 30: Liriano at times 'unhittable' against O's

Live from Florida, Day 30: Liriano at times 'unhittable' against O's

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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SARASOTA, Fla. -- A rundown of the news, notes and quotes from Friday at Minnesota Twins spring training:

Today's result

Twins 3, Orioles 2

Francisco Liriano strung together his second consecutive solid spring start on Friday night in Sarasota, allowing only one earned run in five innings against a very good Orioles lineup.

In those five innings, Liriano threw 68 pitches (42 strikes), allowed three hits, walked one and struck out seven. Out of 11 batted balls, seven were grounders.

Over his last two starts, Liriano has induced 16 grounders on 20 batted balls.

"He threw the ball great," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The ball was really coming out of his hand. He kind of overanalyzes a little bit. He wants it to be perfect, but that was really good."

Liriano has struggled to "stay back," as he puts it, in the early part of spring. This is nothing new, as Liriano tends to regularly go through stretches where he fights mechanics and confidence.

But on Friday night, he looked as untouchable as ever.

"That's just who he is, Gardenhire said. "He's never going to be one of these perfect-form guys. That's his makeup. That's it. I mean, that's who he is ... Every once in a while he's going to overthrow it. We've talked for a lot of years, and that's him. That's Frankie.

"But when he's getting up on top of it like he did tonight, at times he's unhittable. And he was tonight at times."

• SS Matt Tolbert went 3-for-5 with a home run, while his utility-infield counterpart, Luke Hughes went 1-for-4 with a single.

Numbers game, Liriano edition

92-93: The velocity, in miles per hour, of Liriano's fastball on Friday night according to the radar gun at Ed Smith Stadium.

84-87: The velocity of Liriano's off-speed pitches (changeup, slider), according to the same gun.

61%: Percentage of first-pitch strikes thrown by Liriano in 2010. Carl Pavano threw a first-pitch strike 70% of the time, which ranked second in baseball. Carlos Zambrano threw the fewest first-pitch strikes (52%).

Not that it matters, but Liriano has thrown first-pitch strikes to 18 out of 32 batters (56%) in his last two spring starts.

Health watch

• OF Michael Cuddyer (foot) was tentatively scheduled to play in a minor-league game on Friday, but those plans changed because he is "still having some issues" with his left foot.

• C Joe Mauer (knee) is scheduled to catch in Saturday's game against the Rays. Mauer caught two innings in a minor-league game on Thursday.

• 1B Justin Morneau (concussion) played in his first night game since last July, going 0-for-3 with a walk. He is expected to see some at-bats as a designated hitter on Saturday at Hammond Stadium.

Overheard

"We'll just play it by ear until we get to the end of camp, then see where we're at, see what our decisions are."
-- Gardenhire, still not ready to officially name his closer.

On deck

The Twins host the Tampa Bay Rays at Hammond Stadium on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. eastern. Mauer and Morneau are both expected to play.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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