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Updated: April 2nd, 2011 2:43pm
Twins Daily: Wild Francisco Liriano pounded as Jays beat Twins again

Twins Daily: Wild Francisco Liriano pounded as Jays beat Twins again

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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The Toronto Blue Jays blasted two home runs off Francisco Liriano, who threw more than half of his pitches outside the strike zone in 4 1/3 rough innings, and the Minnesota Twins managed only one hit in Saturday's 6-1 loss at Rogers Centre.

The skinny

Jose Molina drove a changeup off the top of the left-field fence for a leadoff home run in the third inning. Jayson Nix blasted a center-cut fastball into the left-field seats with one out in the fourth.

And Twins manager Ron Gardenhire had seen enough when Liriano surrendered a walk and a single with one out in the fifth, going to the bullpen even though the score was 2-1 and the left-hander had thrown only 90 pitches (44 strikes). Liriano struck out three and walked five, one shy of matching a career high.

Making his second relief appearance in as many days, Kevin Slowey came on and gave up one run on a scratch single to Edwin Encarnacion, then two more on Travis Snider's two-out double.

Matt Capps allowed another run in the eighth, and that was more than enough support for Jays starter Kyle Drabek, who allowed one hit and struck out seven in as many innings.

Turning point

Entering with a 1-2 count and runners at the corners, Slowey got Encarcion to bounce weakly up the middle, seemingly setting up a 6-3 double play or, at worst, a force play for the second out.

But shortstop Alexi Casilla was playing for Encarnacion to pull and second baseman Tsuyoshi wasn't positioned to make a play at the bag either -- Gardenhire told reporters it probably was Nishioka's play -- allowing the ball to skip through for an infield single as Jose Bautista jogged home.

That kept the inning alive when Slowey got the next hitter, Nix, to fly out to center field. Snider ripped a curveball to right field on the next pitch, driving in two and doubling the Jays' lead to 5-1.

Numbers game

11.88: Earned-run average so far this season of the Twins' starting pitchers, Carl Pavano and Liriano, who have combined to allow 11 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings of consecutive losses.

1: Big-league stolen bases for Nishioka, who drew a leadoff walk in the fourth inning, swiped second and eventually came home on Justin Morneau's grounder to knot the score at 1.

0: Hits for the Twins until the sixth inning, when CF Denard Span sliced a one-out single to left field.

2: Questionable third strikes called in the first inning by home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez, who rang up Span and Morneau -- receiving an extended protest from the latter.

3: Consecutive singles allowed by Capps to lead off the eighth, loading the bases before Aaron Hill's one-out sacrifice fly brought home Molina.

Health watch

No significant concerns.

On deck

Coming off an injury-plagued 2010 season that included a midseason stint at Class-AAA Rochester, Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn returned healthy and enjoyed a solid spring. He left Florida with a 3-1 record, a 1.73 earned-run average and 11 strikeouts in 26 innings, including 11 scoreless frames in a row to end the exhibition slate.

Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil lost velocity on his fastball in the spring, throwing in the mid- to high-80s while giving up 15 earned runs in 22 2/3 innings (5.96 ERA). He was 15-7 with a 4.22 ERA, 117 strikeouts and 54 walks in 172 2/3 innings last season and has pitched well in limited action against the Twins, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings.

Coming up

• Monday: at New York Yankees, 6:05 p.m. RHP Scott Baker vs. RHP Ivan Nova.
• Tuesday: at New York Yankees, 6:05 p.m. LHP Brian Duensing vs. LHP CC Sabathia.
• Wednesday: at New York Yankees, 6:05 p.m. RHP Carl Pavano (0-1, 15.75 ERA) vs. RHP Freddy Garcia.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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