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Updated: May 7th, 2012 11:21pm
What else can Twins do with Liriano? 'Keep running him out there'

What else can Twins do with Liriano? 'Keep running him out there'

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Following Monday night's 8-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels -- a loss that dropped the Twins to 7-21 on the season -- Minnesota Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano was clearly dejected while speaking with reporters.

Liriano allowed four earned runs on five hits and three walks while striking out four in only five innings, marking the sixth time in six starts he has allowed at least four earned runs.

Liriano's last quality start came on Aug. 20, and since July 29 the left-hander has completed seven innings only once.

The 6.41 walks per nine innings for Liriano would also mark a career high, just like the 7.20 strikeouts per nine would mark a career low.

And heading into Monday only five pitchers (out of 143 qualified) had thrown fewer pitches in the strike zone than Liriano (37%).

The problem for the Twins is that they've seemingly tried everything, including skipping Liriano's turn in the rotation two weeks ago to allow him to throw two bullpen sessions.

What else can possibly be done?

"Keep running him out there," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

"You just have to sit and talk about it and keep running him out there. You can only change so many starters. We don't have enough people to change all our starters. Frankie has to figure it out."

Liriano is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, so he is fully aware how high the stakes are. Despite poor results in his last two starts he feels as if he's on the right track in some ways.

"It's been kind of difficult for me to find out what it is, but I think it's getting better," said Liriano, whose ERA actually dropped to 9.45 on Monday.

"My last two starts, I know we've lost both of them, but besides that ... The results have not been there, but besides that I think it's getting better."

Better, maybe.

But not nearly good enough, and the Twins have little choice, as Gardenhire said, but to keep running him out there if they want to trade him at some point.

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