Woes be gone: Liriano sorts out mechanics
Struggling starter met with manager, pitching coach on Friday
CHICAGO -- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson held a meeting with Francisco Liriano on Friday in Kansas City to go over Liriano's mechanics.
The meeting seemed innocent enough, as they simply wanted to show the left-hander that his erratic performances this season came because he was changing his release points in his delivery.
Liriano had posted a 9.13 ERA in five outings to that point, and had struck out as many as he'd walked with 18 of each over 23 2/3 innings. It was a far cry from his breakthrough 2010 campaign, when he posted a 3.62 ERA, struck out 201 and walked 58 in 191 2/3 innings.
Liriano listened closely, but more importantly he told Anderson that he wanted to throw only pitches he felt comfortable throwing -- namely his four-seam fastball, slider and changeup -- while dropping his two-seamer from the mix.
Anderson just told Liriano to go with what he was comfortable with in his next outing and to forget about the mechanical issues he was facing at that point.
Liriano was able to take that advice to heart, settling in for the first time this season in a big way. Just four days after that meeting, he tossed a no-hitter in the Twins' 1-0 victory over the White Sox on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field.
"[Anderson] told me to just 'go out there and pitch the way you know how to pitch, and don't worry about mechanics or anything at all,'" Liriano said. "'Just go out there, hit your spot and make some good pitches.'"
Anderson said the key was just getting Liriano his confidence back, as he wanted Liriano to realize that he's much more like the pitcher who dominated last season than the one who was struggling this year.
"I said, 'Be who you are,'" Anderson said. "No more two-seamers. Let's put that in the back pocket for a while and go with what makes you right. So to me, if you go out there and feel, 'I'm going to do good with this,' then you're going to do good with it."
Liriano did more than just that against the White Sox, proving he's still worthy of being in the rotation despite whispers he could lose his spot to right-hander Kevin Slowey if he continued to struggle.
Liriano didn't let those thoughts creep into his head and was able to show his old self, though he did walk six and struck out just two.
"I didn't want to think about if they're going to put me in the bullpen or anything like that," Liriano said. "I just went out there and tried to do my best, and tried to help the team win a ballgame."
When Liriano was greeted by Gardenhire after the game, he got some words of advice from his manager about Anderson's original suggestion to clean up his mechanics.
"I told him, 'You tell Andy to [forget about] those mechanics." Gardenhire joked.
Anderson, though, was just happy Liriano was able to bounce back and lead the Twins to a big victory, as the no-hitter snapped a six-game team losing streak and gave the left-hander plenty of confidence in the process.
"I think it's a big weight off his shoulders," Anderson said. "You just think about how he's up against it. If a guy says he's not pressing, he's lying. Our team in general -- you look at our offense, our pitching and our bullpen -- they have to be pressing. So it was a big weight off his shoulders, and he can go out and finish what he started and be successful."