0.2 innings, 5 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 0 SO
That was Francisco Liriano's line on April 24. It was the low point of the season for the Twins' young left hander.
Coming off Tommy John's surgery, being out of the league since 2006, and having been unable to attend the beginning of spring due to Visa problems had clearly affected Liriano not only physically, but mentally as well.
The Twins were forced to demote Liriano to Triple-A Rochester to hone his control. He also needed to regain confidence in himself and in his pitching ability.
Fast forward four months and Liriano is a changed pitcher.
In three starts in April, Liriano gave up 13 earned runs in 10.1 innings of work for an ERA of 11.32. In his first three starts in August, "Franchise" gave up only three earned runs in 18.2 innings, compiling a 1.48 ERA.
After three outstanding performances in August, Francisco has more than halved his season ERA from 11.32 down to 4.97.
By comparison, Livan Hernandez, the pitcher the Twins released to open up a roster spot for Liriano, has been less than spectacular. In his first start for the Colorado Rockies, Hernandez gave up nine runs in 2.2 innings against the offensively anemic San Diego Padres.
The Minnesota Twins have been reaping the rewards since virtually trading Hernandez for Liriano. Minnesota is 3-0 and has moved into first place all three times that Liriano has started a ballgame since his Aug. 1 call up.
The Twins can only hope that Liriano continues his stellar pitching as the team seeks to win its fifth division title in seven years.
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