Not quite the Francisco Liriano from 2006, but similar for one night
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Prior to his 15-strikeout performance on Friday night, Francisco Liriano's career-high for punch outs in a game was 12 -- a number reached he twice in 2006 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Strikeouts aren't the only link between the Liriano from Friday night and the Liriano from 2006.
Liriano's fastball on Friday topped out at 95 mph and sat consistently between 93-94 according to MLB's batted ball data. His sharp-biting slider topped out at 89.5 mph, and A's hitters whiffed on eight of the 19 changeups Liriano threw.
In 2006, Liriano's average fastball sat just under 95 mph with a slider that sat between 87-88. He would ramp those pitches up a couple notches when needed.
Was Liriano throwing the same stuff on Friday night that he threw in 2006? No.
But the performance did bring back some nostalgia.
"That's a long time ago," manager Ron Gardenhire said Saturday when asked by a reporter to compare the 2006 Liriano to the Liriano of Friday night.
"His stuff was disappearing (Friday night). You saw hitters swinging and actually looking up like, 'What was that? Where'd that go?' Yeah. I saw that back in '06 when he was on his run. We were on the third-base side, and we'd see hitters take a swing and go, look back in our dugout and go, 'Wow.' And that's the type of stuff he had last night I thought. He had three dominating pitches."
Aside from Jonny Gomes' fourth-inning grand slam, Liriano was as untouchable for eight innings as any pitcher this season. A's hitters swung at 55 pitches and came up empty 30 times. According to ESPN's Stats and Information, no pitcher has induced 30 whiffs in a start since Johan Santana in 2007.
Liriano also became the first pitcher in over 100 years to strike out 15 batters and allow a grand slam in the same game.