Liriano's 15 strikeouts go to waste thanks to one swing

Francisco Liriano dominated the A's, but a grand slam by Jonny Gomes spelled defeat for the Twins lefty.

view larger photos


On a night full of swings and misses, Francisco Liriano's night was defined by one of the few times an Athletics hitter made contact against him.

The Twins lefthander watched his defense let him down in the fourth inning, then he added to the mess by walking the bases loaded. One bad changeup later, Jonny Gomes hit a grand slam and Oakland was on its way to a 6-3 victory at Target Field.

It soured a night during which Liriano, for the most part, was untouchable. With scouts from the Mets and Yankees in attendance, Liriano pitched a season-high eight innings while striking out 15 batters, tying Bert Blyleven, Jerry Koosman, Camilo Pascual and Joe Decker for the second most in team history. Johan Santana set the record of 17 on Aug. 19, 2007, against Texas.

"I tip my hat to him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Liriano. "Son of a gun, that was fun to watch."

"Looked pretty good from the outfield," Twins outfielder Josh Willingham said. "He had swing-and-miss stuff."

"He had everything," catcher Drew Butera said. "I wouldn't narrow anything down."

Unfortunately for Liriano, he dropped to 3-8. A's righthander A.J. Griffin, whose father, Tim, is from Grand Rapids, Minn., got his first major league victory.

The first time through the batting order, Liriano racked up seven strikeouts. He hit double digits by the fifth inning. He reached a career-high 14 strikeouts through seven innings. In eight innings, he gave up three earned runs, four hits and a walk to go with all those strikeouts.

It was a side of Liriano rarely seen since 2006, when he tore up the league before tearing an elbow ligament and missing all of 2007.

"Everything was working," Liriano said. "Everything was down. I was throwing the ball down and they were swinging a lot, too."

Liriano struck out the side in the third and was on a roll. But things got hairy in the fourth.

Jemile Weeks reached first when his grounder deflected off Liriano's left foot. Josh Reddick struck out, but Yoenis Cespedes reached when his routine fly ball popped out of Denard Span's glove for an error.

Liriano then walked Chris Carter after getting ahead of him 0-2, and Gomes blasted the first pitch he saw into the seats in left for his third career grand slam. Oakland took a 4-1 lead and never trailed again.

"An interesting situation, with a guy like that pounding the strike zone," Gomes said. "You can't give in, so you've got to swing and hope for a strike.

"Not like my first at-bat. My first AB, three swings, three strikes. My second AB, one swing, home run. You've just got to be aggressive."

All three Twins runs were supplied by Willingham, who hit a solo home run in the second and a two-run shot in the fourth, giving him 21 for the season. The Twins' best threat after that came in the eighth with runners on second and third and two out. Trevor Plouffe, at the end of an eight-pitch at-bat against Grant Balfour, lined out to second to end the inning.

Liriano was overpowering to the end. He walked off the field to a standing ovation after pitching a 1-2-3 eighth. Of his 112 pitches, 75 were strikes.

"Phenomenal game by Frankie Liriano," Gardenhire said. "He deserved a lot better than he got. Some sloppy play by us."

  • related content

  • BOXSCORE: Oakland 6, Twins 3

    Friday July 13, 2012

  • Souhan: The diagnosis for Liriano: It's all in his head

    Friday July 13, 2012

    Again Friday he showed that he's physically imposing but mentally vulnerable to blowing up under pressure.

  • Twins HOF honoree Pascual reminisces

    Saturday July 14, 2012

    On Sept. 30, 1962, Camilo Pascual needed to win his final start of the season to become a 20-game winner for the first time in his career.

  • Recap: Oakland 6, Twins 3

    Saturday July 14, 2012

    He turned the game around on one swing, lofting the first pitch he saw from Francisco Liriano in the fourth inning for a grand slam that gave the A's the...

  • Jonny Gomes, right, changed the game for Oakland when he connected for a grand slam in the fourth.


    Up next: 6:10 p.m. today vs. Oakland • Target Field • TV: FSN (1500-AM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Marshall 52 FINAL
Northern Ill 23
Navy 17 FINAL
San Diego St 16
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 3rd Qtr
Rice 16
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question