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Updated: April 27th, 2011 10:28pm
Twins Daily: Liriano rocked by Rays on snowy night at Target Field

Twins Daily: Liriano rocked by Rays on snowy night at Target Field

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- On a snowy Wednesday night at Target Field, Francisco Liriano was rocked for seven earned runs in three innings, as the Minnesota Twins lost 8-2 to the Tampa Bay Rays.

The skinny

For the fourth time in five starts, Liriano struggled mightily on Wednesday night, allowing seven earned runs on six hits and four walks in three-plus innings while striking out four.

His fastball clocked in at 93 mph, but Liriano's command was all over the place. The left-hander threw only 45 of his 83 pitches for strikes, and he left with the bases loaded and nobody out in the fourth inning.

"He was just up with everything," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Even if you got two strikes on him, he couldn't put away a hitter."

"Just misfiring. We've got to get his confidence going some way or another. Tonight, it looked like after the first inning, he was really battling through just about everything. So with a doubleheader coming tomorrow, we were hoping to get some innings out of him. It didn't work out."

Liriano has now allowed at least four earned runs in four of his five starts, and seven earned runs in two of five.

"I've got my confidence back," Liriano said, "I'm just missing my spots. Just leaving the ball up in the zone. Tonight was a cold night -- not fun to go out and pitch in that weather."

"I don't want to make any excuses. I had a bad night ... Just keep walking people, giving up too many walks. (I'm) trying to go deeper into games and it's just not working for me right now."

Turning point

With five consecutive hits to start the top of the first inning, the Rays blew the game wide open before the Twins even had a chance to bat.

Sam Fuld started the rally with a double off the limestone in right, and Johnny Damon drove him in with a single.

B.J. Upton then followed with a double, Ben Zobrist a triple, and Sean Rodriguez a single, putting the Rays up 4-0 before an out was recorded.

Numbers game

9.13: Liriano's ERA after five starts -- the worst mark of any starter in baseball. Liriano has walked 18 batters in 23 2/3 innings after walking only 58 batters in 191 2/3 innings last year.

9: Walks issued out by Twins pitchers, which is the most since May 15, 2009 when Liriano and company walked 10 Yankees in the Bronx.

79: Pitches thrown by Eric Hacker. In relief.

37: The temperature at Target Field throughout most of the game. Snow began falling in the second inning and continued throughout the rest of the evening.

Health watch

• OF Delmon Young (ribs) was penciled in the lineup for the first time since April 18, but he pulled himself out after experiencing trouble getting loose during batting practice. A short while later, the Twins placed Young on the 15-day disabled list and recalled outfielder Rene Tosoni. Gardenhire said the team has no regrets about waiting so long to place Young on the disabled list. "We need Delmon in the lineup. We have to give him a chance to get well. It wasn't supposed to be a big long thing. We gave him every opportunity to get back on the field. It didn't work out."

• C Joe Mauer (viral infection, bilateral leg weakness) is eligible to return from the disabled list on Thursday, but that won't happen. In fact, it seems nobody really knows when Mauer will be back. "He's doing his work and that's it," Gardenhire said. "I haven't even seen him (Wednesday), honestly ... No updates." He added, "It's not until he gets his legs and body underneath him. I have no timetable. None whatsoever."

• DH Jim Thome was sidelined Wednesday night with a mild oblique strain. "I don't believe it's a DL thing," Gardenhire said, but Thome is almost certainly unavailable for Tuesday's doubleheader.

• OF Jason Repko has a mild quadriceps strain, although he is still available to play if needed.

• RHP Kevin Slowey threw 47 pitches in an extended spring training game down in Florida Wednesday, and he is expected to rejoin the team in either Kansas City or Chicago during the upcoming road trip.

Overheard

"I'm worried about everybody."
-- Gardenhire, expressing some mild paranoia when asked whether he was worried about Justin Morneau's status for Thursday after the first baseman was hit on the forearm by a pitch.

On deck

A rainout Tuesday, a short outing by Liriano on Wednesday, and a flu bug caught by Pavano throws a wrench into the Twins' starting rotation over the next few days.

In Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday (12:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN), right-hander Nick Blackburn (1-3, 4.01) will face right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 4.32). Right-hander Jeff Niemann (0-3, 7.08) will pitch for the Rays in the nightcap (7:10 p.m., 1500 ESPN) against right-hander Anthony Swarzak, who will start on short rest after being called up late Wednesday night.

Coming up

• Friday: @ Kansas City, 7:10 p.m. RHP Scott Baker (1-2, 3.24 ERA) vs. LHP Bruce Chen (3-1, 3.86).
• Saturday: @ Kansas City, 6:10 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing (2-0, 3.00) vs. RHP Sean O'Sullivan (1-1, 4.20)
• Sunday: @ Kansas City, 1:10 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (2-2, 5.12) vs. Luke Hochevar (2-3, 5.68).

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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