While the Twins weren’t ready to reveal their exact plans, they said after Sunday’s loss to the Rays that they’d “take a step back” with Francisco Liriano after he gave up five runs and fell to 0-3 on the season.
Liriano, who had an outstanding spring after tuning up in winter ball, is 0-3 with an 11.02 ERA after four starts. He has a 12/13 K/BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings. Liriano finished up March with a 2.33 ERA and an exceptional 33/5 K/BB ratio in 29 innings.
After two hitless innings to start the afternoon, Liriano walked two and hit a batter to begin the third. The Rays went on to score twice without the benefit of a hit. Liriano was unlucky in the fourth, as Evan Longoria was credited with a catwalk double on a ball that would have caught elsewhere. He later came around to score. Still, Liriano has mostly made his own bed this season.
If the Twins sent Liriano to the pen, it’d hopefully be a temporary measure. Anthony Swarzak could swap places with him or the team could call up Scott Diamond from Triple-A to fill the rotation spot.
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.