Francisco Liriano's "tired arm" pushes him back to Thursday and sets up great matchup with Cliff Lee

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Francisco Liriano was slated to pitch tonight, but instead his start has been pushed back to Thursday because of what manager Ron Gardenhire called “a tired arm.”
Liriano has struggled in two of his last three outings after throwing shutout ball for three straight starts, so the Twins will hope that a little extra rest can get him back on track.
And if nothing else it sets up an amazing pitching matchup Thursday, with Liriano facing off against Cliff Lee in the final game of a four-game series between first-place teams.
Nick Blackburn is filling in for Liriano tonight while rejoining the rotation in place of the injured Kevin Slowey following a month-long demotion to Triple-A. Blackburn fared well in four starts at Rochester, posting a 2.49 ERA and .229 opponents’ batting average in 22 innings while inducing 65 percent ground balls, but his 13/6 K/BB ratio was significantly less confidence-inspiring.
Blackburn also rejoins the rotation with a very difficult matchup against the Rangers, in Texas. In terms of offense at home, the Yankees are the only team in the league with a higher OPS or more runs than the Rangers, so it’s hardly an ideal way to ease someone back into the rotation.

Red Sox ask Hanley Ramirez to report 15-20 pounds lighter next spring

Hanley Ramirez
The Associated Press
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Hanley Ramirez was a complete failure in left field this season in Boston and he batted just .249/.291/.426 while appearing in only 105 games. Ben Cherington, the man that signed him to a four-year, $88 million free agent contract, is no longer with the Red Sox. It’s time for some tough love …

Red Sox interim manager Torey Lovullo, who just inked a two-year extension to return as John Farrell’s bench coach, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Sunday that Hanley has been asked to drop 15-20 pounds over the offseason. There have been similar conversations with Boston’s other free agent failure, Pablo Sandoval.

Ramirez is expected to start at first base for the Red Sox in 2016.

Video: Clayton Kershaw notches his 300th strikeout

Clayton Kershaw
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Clayton Kershaw entered Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Padres needing six strikeouts to become the first pitcher in 13 years to whiff 300 batters in a single season.

He did it within the first nine batters of the game, whiffing Yangervis Solarte, Clint Barmes, Austin Hedges, and Travis Jankowski once each and Melvin Upton Jr. on two different occasions.

Here was the milestone matchup against Upton Jr. with two outs in the top of the third …

The last pitchers to reach 300 strikeouts in a season were Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. They did so as teammates on the 2002 Diamondbacks.

Kershaw is lined up to face the Mets in Game 1 of the NLDS.