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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, July 12th (All times Eastern)

Oakland Athletics (43-43) at Minnesota Twins (36-49), 8:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - A.J. Griffin (0-0, 2.00) Minnesota - Francisco Liriano (3-7, 5.08)

(Sports Network) - Francisco Liriano's first start following a brief demotion to the bullpen came against Oakland and that victory jump started his recent resurgence.

The Minnesota Twins hurler looks for a repeat this evening in the opener of a three-game set against the Athletics.

A former All-Star, Liriano was just 0-5 with a 9.45 earned run average through six starts to begin the season before getting shifted into a relieving role. He then notched a 4.91 ERA in five appearances out of the bullpen before getting a start against Oakland on May 30.

The lefty was stellar on that day, hurling six scoreless frames of three-hit ball with nine strikeouts in a 4-0 win. In eight total starts since returning to the rotation, Liriano has gone 3-2 with a 2.74 ERA.

Liriano, who is 3-3 with a 4.05 ERA lifetime versus Oakland, hasn't lost since June 10 and picked up a victory in Texas in his final start before the break. The 28-year-old yielded a run over 6 2/3 frames, scattering five hits and six walks with six strikeouts.

"I've been hitting my spots better, throwing more strikes, and being more consistent," said Liriano, who is 3-7 with a 5.08 ERA overall on the season.

Though the Twins have gone 26-23 since May 16, they have lost four of their last five and sit last in the American League Central, 11 games back of first place. That could lead to the club being sellers before the trade deadline later this month.

Liriano is one player who could get moved as is closer Matt Capps. The righty has been on the disabled list since June 25 because of right shoulder inflammation, but is expected to be activated prior to this contest.

Capps is 1-4 with a 3.42 ERA in 27 games this season, converting 14-of-15 save chances.

The Athletics, meanwhile, won six of their final seven before the break to even their season record at 43-43. That leaves them nine games out of first place in the AL West and 2 1/2 back of a wild card spot.

"It was good for us," said A's second baseman Jemile Weeks following an extra- inning 2-1 win over the Mariners on Sunday. "We've been fighting all year. We've had our ups and downs but for the most part we've met expectations, or exceeded them at times and I think we'll continue to do that."

Rookie A.J. Griffin has certainly met expectations so far and is set to make his fourth career start tonight for Oakland.

Griffin has pitched six innings in all three of his previous starts, allowing four runs and striking out 11 without a decision. He held the Red Sox to a pair of runs on four hits and two walks on July 4, though he did serve up David Ortiz's 400th career homer.

Still, the 24-year-old righty has been solid and threw scoreless baseball in Texas on June 29 in the only other road outing of his career.

The Twins swept a three-game series at home over the Athletics in late May and have taken six of the last eight encounters overall.

07/13 10:54:18 ET