I dedicated my entire pregame writeup to Francisco Liriano this evening, so it's only fitting that the left-hander completely stole the show at Target Field in a 6-0 victory over the Indians. Liriano struck out the side in the first, and was in control from that point forward as he hurled eight scoreless frames, getting more than enough support from the offense as the Twins locked up a fifth consecutive series victory and stretched their record to 11-4.
Liriano only struck out three more batters after the first, but was in control for the entire game, changing speeds and and moving around the zone to keep Cleveland's hitters thoroughly off-balance. The gem included plenty of promising signs; Liriano induced 13 ground ball outs, threw 70 of his 102 pitches for strikes and worked efficiently through eight frames.
Perhaps most important, given his struggles last year, was Liriano's ability to remain composed with runners on base and work out of jams. By his own admission, Liriano got thrown out of whack last year when forced to go to the stretch, but there were no signs of that tonight. In the fifth, when the Tribe loaded the bases with one out, Liriano got Asdrubal Cabrera to ground into an inning-ending double play. One inning later, Austin Kearns doubled with two outs but found himself stranded at second. Cleveland tried mounting another threat in the seventh when Jhonny Peralta drew a one-out walk, but Liriano quickly squashed any potential rally by getting Matt LaPorta to line into another double play.
Outside of Michael Cuddyer -- who homered, tripled and drove in three runs -- the Twins hitters didn't make a lot of noise in the game. They did, however, employ a patient approach against Indians starter David Huff, forcing him to throw tons of pitches early on and drawing six walks during his six innings of work.
It all led to a very convincing victory for the Twins, who are off to a phenomenal start this season and will seek their first sweep tomorrow, when they wrap up their first home stand at Target Field.