(Sports Network) – Francisco Liriano tries to bring the Minnesota Twins closer to their second straight American League Central title this afternoon when they wrap up their three-game set with the Oakland Athletics at Target Field.
Liriano has been a big part of the Twins’ recent success and won his eighth consecutive decision on Tuesday in Chicago, as he held the White Sox to three runs and six hits in six innings to run his record to 14-7 on the year to go along with a 3.28 ERA.
The lefty has faced the A’s nine times (seven starts) and is 1-2 against them with a 4.22 ERA.
Minnesota continued to roll on Saturday, as Danny Valencia hit a three-run homer to lead the Twins to a 4-2 win. Michael Cuddyer had two hits and a run scored for the Twins, whose magic number to clinch the division is now five after the White Sox lost to Detroit on Saturday.
Minnesota starter Kevin Slowey (13-6) gave up two runs on five hits and struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings.
The Twins continue to thrive in their building, where they are 20-4 since July 21 and an impressive 49-24 on the season.
Landon Powell hit a solo home run and Akinori Iwamura added an RBI double for Oakland, which has dropped four of six. Dallas Braden (9-13) permitted four runs on eight hits and walked four over six full frames.
“Dallas did a good job pitching today. (Valencia’s home run) changed the game,” Powell said.
Oakland, meanwhile, will pin its hopes today on lefty Bobby Cramer, who will be making his second major league start. Cramer won his big league debut on Monday in Kansas City and allowed a run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings.
“He looked very comfortable,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “He threw strikes and I was very happy about him going that deep into the game and keeping a lead.”
The Twins have had success this season when taking on the Athletics. Minnesota has won six of the eight clashes between the teams thus far in 2010 and swept a three-game set from Oakland at Target Field from August 13-15.