Francisco Liriano throws another gem as Twins win fifth straight series

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Francisco Liriano was fantastic again last night, following up seven shutout innings last week against Boston with eight scoreless frames against Cleveland. In those 15 innings he got 14 strikeouts versus four walks while inducing 23 ground-ball outs, which along with significantly increased velocity is creeping ever closer to 2006 territory.
Best of all the back-to-back gems aren’t the extent of his reemergence, as Liriano also dominated winter ball and spring training after an ugly 2009 campaign.
Liriano looks like a top-of-the-rotation stud again, Minnesota’s offense leads the AL in walks and ranks second in runs per game while grinding out tough at-bat after tough at-bat, and for the first time in franchise history the Twins have won five straight series to begin a season.
There are some injuries to worry about and playing time issues to sort through, but the Twins are firing on nearly all cylinders right now and the rest of the division doesn’t look capable of keeping pace for long.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Tony La Russa part ways

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The Arizona Diamondbacks just announced that they are parting ways with Tony La Russa at the end of the month.

La Russa served as the club’s “Chief Baseball Officer” from 2015-16. For the last year he was styled “Chief Baseball Analyst.” That’s a nice way to saying that he was pushed aside when the club fired his hand-picked general manager Dave Stewart and brought in Mike Hazen to run the club a year ago. La Russa was stripped of his powers, but was told he could hang around as an advisor. Most didn’t think he’d actually take the club up on that offer, but he did. By all accounts he was a pretty unobtrusive presence around the team this year, offering counsel and insight when asked but not making things awkward the way having the old boss around might do.

I suppose that can only last so long, however. The Dbacks had considerably more success without La Russa in charge in 2017 than they had with him in charge the previous couple of years. At some point you just part ways. That point is now.