The Minnesota Twins once thought Francisco Liriano would be the heir apparent to Johan Santana. That, of course, never happened and on Saturday, the Twins will try to put a dent in his new team's playoff hopes when they continue a three-game set against the Chicago White Sox at Target Field.
Liriano, a 14-game winner for the Twins as recently as 2010, was shipped to Chicago right before the non-waiver trade deadline after years of inconsistency since a breakout campaign in 2006.
Liriano, who gave up two runs in a relief effort on Tuesday without recording an out, was 3-10 in 22 games (17 starts) for the Twins with a 5.31 ERA before the deal.
He hasn't started since a no-decision against Kansas City on Sept. 7 when he allowed five runs and six hits in five innings. In nine games since being acquired by Chicago, Liriano is 2-1 with a 5.53 ERA.
Liriano did not get a decision against the Twins three days after being traded by them, as he surrendered two runs and four hits in six innings of that one.
The 28-year-old left-hander will try to duplicate Chris Sale's terrific effort in Friday's opener. Sale tossed six scoreless innings and Chicago rolled to a 6-0 win.
The win allowed Chicago to maintain its one-game lead over Detroit for first place in the AL Central. The Tigers took a 4-0 win over the Indians on Friday.
Sale (17-6) gave up just three hits and struck out five to win his second straight start. Dayan Viciedo drove in two while Kevin Youkilis hit a solo home run for the White Sox, who had just dropped two of three to Detroit.
"I just felt really good out there tonight and didn't let the little things get to me," said Sale. "All in all, it was a pretty great day out there for the whole team. We just need to keep this rolling and get into the playoffs."
Justin Morneau had two of the four hits for the Twins, who have lost three of their last four. Esmerling Vasquez (0-2) was charged with three runs on three hits along with four walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings of work.
"He was attacking the zone real well and got his pitches through," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire about Sale. "He threw strikes and we just couldn't get anything going against him."
On Saturday, Minnesota will rely on righty Samuel Deduno, who is 6-3 with a 3.55 ERA. He beat the Cleveland Indians on Monday, holding them to a pair of runs and three hits with three walks in seven innings.
Deduno lost to Chicago two starts ago in his only other start against them and gave up two runs in six innings.
The White Sox have won 12 of their 16 meetings this season with the Twins, going 5-2 at Minnesota.