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Bannister, Royals spoil Liriano's debut

Apr 13, 2008 - 11:00 PM By Marc Bowman PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) - Brian Bannister and the Kansas City Royals gave Francisco Liriano a rude welcome back to the majors en route to defeating the Minnesota Twins, 5-1, Sunday.

Bannister tossed the second complete game of his career while allowing just three hits and one unearned run with a walk and two strikeouts in his third straight victory.

The 27-year-old righthander joined Chien-Ming Wang and Livan Hernandez at the top of the American League with three wins. Bannister (3-0) has held opponents to a .143 average over 21 innings.

"Today is really all about Brian Bannister. A complete game, no earned runs, faced four over the minimum, a pretty good day," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "Banny is what he is. He's a very good pitcher in the purest sense of the word 'pitcher.' He makes and mixes his pitches very well. He's not afraid with sometimes a below-average fastball, but it's got some life to it. At times, it comes out as average when he needs a little extra. He's very picky about when he uses that little extra."

"He was able to control both sides of the plate," Kansas City catcher John Buck said. "He was making hitters have to cover both sides of the plate. It's what a lot of coaches talk about, and he was out there doing it."

Bannister raised his career mark against the Twins to 3-0 while lowering his season ERA to 0.86. His 15 wins since June 1 of last year trail only Wang and Brandon Webb.

"He always pitches us tough," Minnesota designated hitter Jason Kubel said. "He attacks the zone and everything he throws is a strike. He kept us off balance."

"I try to get ahead of guys," Bannister said. "I try to throw all four pitches for strikes and move it up when I have to. All my pitches were working today. I wanted to get out there and redeem myself after the Yankees game because I was really disappointed how that game went (only lasting five innings) because I preach innings and efficiency."

In his first start since 2006, Liriano (0-1) struggled through 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs and six hits while walking five and striking out four.

"It's a process and it takes a while to feel comfortable again," Twins catcher Mike Redmond said. "In the middle innings, he started to get loose and started turning it loose a little. He did throw some vintage Liriano pitches. As the day went on he started to feel more comfortable. I like what I saw and I told him just 'welcome back.' It's a big day for him and a big day for us. He gave us a chance to win. Unfortunately, the other guy was better."

"It was cold and I couldn't establish my fastball," Liriano said. "I was just trying to keep loose. If I can establish my fastball I can do better. I was kind of nervous the first couple of innings, but I settled down after that."

The 24-year-old lefthander missed the entire 2007 season after having "Tommy John" surgery on his left elbow in November, 2006.

"He had good arm speed and a really good slider," Buck said. "He might have been rushing his delivery a little bit. It's his first game out there and he's trying to make his way back, but I'm sure they're pretty happy with what he did today."

"Liriano helped us a little bit today," Hillman said. "He was spotty with his command. You can still see the electric stuff. I didn't get a chance to see it two years ago when he was lights out, but I can see that's in there. His velocity climbed from the first (inning) to the second to the third. He was actually throwing the hardest I noticed in the fourth inning, a couple at 93-94 miles per hour velocity. I'm glad he wasn't commanding that to start the game. That's a difficult assignment."

The Royals snapped a 26-inning scoreless skid when Billy Butler extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a two-out single to center, plating Joey Gathright to tie the score, 1-1, in the first inning.

"I think it was really big especially considering the first run was an unearned run and the fact we had lost three in a row and two to this team," Hillman said of scoring for the first time since the first inning Thursday. "I think that was a big factor, to get the momentum back immediately, at least tie it up. It gave everybody a chance to take a deep breath and say, 'OK, we're going to win today.'"

"What scoreless drought?" Gordon asked. "I didn't know we had one. No, it is always good to get that run in the first inning and get things going. I think it was big after two shutouts."

Miguel Olivo doubled to right to drive in Alex Gordon with the go-ahead run in the next inning.

Kansas City extended its lead to 4-1 in the fourth after Gordon stole third and scored on Tony Pena's sacrifice fly, and Esteban German added a two-out RBI single.

"One big thing I felt like impacted the game was Alex stealing third base," Hillman said. "That put us in a position to add on. We were able to get some runs on the board, which was good."

Gordon capped the scoring with his third home run of the season to lead off the eighth inning. He finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored and his first stolen base of the season.

"We had a comfortable lead, but it's always good to tack on some more," Gordon said.

The Royals salvaged the final game of the homestand, snapping a three-game slide while ending the Twins' three-game win streak.








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    MINNESOTA 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0
    KANSAS CITY 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 1 x 5 7 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: MIN - FRANCISCO LIRIANO, BRIAN BASS (5TH), JUAN RINCON (8TH) AND
    MIKE REDMOND
    KAN - BRIAN BANNISTER AND JOHN BUCK

    HOME RUNS: MIN - NONE
    KAN - ALEX GORDON (3) OFF

    Apr 13 4:21 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    SOLO HOME RUN BY ALEX GORDON (3) TO RIGHT WITH 0 OUT IN THE
    8TH OFF JUAN RINCON.
    CURRENT SCORE: MINNESOTA 1, KANSAS CITY 5
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: M OLIVO (.182, 1-FOR-2, BB, RBI)

    Twins 1, Royals 5  Bot 8, 0 OutsApr 13 4:13 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY ESTEBAN GERMAN SCORED JOHN BUCK.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, E GERMAN ON FIRST, J GATHRIGHT ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: MINNESOTA 1
    KANSAS CITY 4 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: M TEAHEN (.300, 0-FOR-2)

    Twins 1, Royals 4  Bot 4, 0 OutsApr 13 3:15 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    SACRIFICE FLY BY TONY PENA SCORED ALEX GORDON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J BUCK ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: MINNESOTA 1
    KANSAS CITY 3 BOTTOM, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: J GATHRIGHT (.227, 1-FOR-2)

    Twins 1, Royals 3  Bot 4, 0 OutsApr 13 3:13 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY MIGUEL OLIVO SCORED ALEX GORDON.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, M OLIVO ON SECOND, 0 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: MINNESOTA 1
    KANSAS CITY 2 BOTTOM, 2ND
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: J BUCK (.226, 1 HR, 5 RBI)

    Twins 1, Royals 2  Bot 2, 0 OutsApr 13 2:38 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY BILLY BUTLER SCORED JOEY GATHRIGHT.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B BUTLER ON FIRST, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: MINNESOTA 1
    KANSAS CITY 1 BOTTOM, 1ST
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: J GUILLEN (.133, 0 HR, 5 RBI)

    Twins 1, Royals 1  Bot 1, 0 OutsApr 13 2:27 PM


  • AL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    MINNESOTA 1 1 1 0
    KANSAS CITY 0 0 1 (BOT 1)

    CURRENT PITCHERS: MIN - FRANCISCO LIRIANO
    KAN - BRIAN BANNISTER

    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: J GATHRIGHT (.214, 0 HR, 1 RBI)
    E GERMAN (.000, 0 HR, 0 RBI)
    M TEAHEN (.316,

    Twins 1, Royals 0  Bot 1, 0 OutsApr 13 2:18 PM