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Liriano earns second rookie honors

Liriano earns second rookie honors

Twins rookie pitcher Francisco Liriano was scratched from his first August start with soreness in his left forearm, and Minnesota is hoping that its 12-game winner is out just temporarily.

"The kid, you don't want to mess with him," Twins third-base coach Scott Ullger said after Liriano was scratched. "If we run him out there and it's not 100 percent and something happens, you'll never forgive yourself."

After the month of July that Liriano had, the Twins' Wild Card chances may just depend on the health of the 22-year old hurler.

The rookie left-hander was named the American League Rookie of the Month for July after posting a 4-1 record and a 1.51 ERA to bolster his season mark of 12-2 and help lower his already minuscule 1.91 ERA. Liriano struck out 55 batters over 41 2/3 innings while walking only 13 in six July starts.

Liriano's torrid July came after he was not originally selected to join the best of the American and National Leagues in Pittsburgh for the All-Star Game, which was something that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire saw as a kind of tragedy for those who love the game.

"That's the nation's loss right there, the world's loss, that they aren't going to get to see that young man pitch in the All-Star Game, because he's definitely one of the best pitchers in this league at 22," Gardenhire said after Lirano went seven scoreless innings against the Rangers on July 8. "Mistakes are made [in the selection]. Let's just hope they don't make any more mistakes like this with Liriano."

After Jose Contreras could not play for the American League, manager Ozzie Guillen placed Liriano on the roster.

Regardless of whether or not he was voted to the AL team in Pittsburgh, the left-hander certainly looked like he should have been in the month that followed the Midsummer Classic. Gardenhire finds himself running out of ways to describe the Twins' prized rookie.

"I don't know how many times or how many different ways you can describe the way he's throwing the baseball," said Gardenhire after Lirano's July 2 start. "But it's pretty nasty up there. You see guys up there swinging and missing that don't do that very often, very good hitters. He dominated the ballgame."

Tampa Bay's Johnny Gomes would rather let the scoreboard do the talking for Liriano.

"He looked as good as the scoreboard said," Gomes said after Liriano threw 8 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay on July 18, allowing just one run. "He was throwing strikes with four different pitches."

Others who were considered for the award were Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander (3-0, 1.01 ERA, 26 2/3 IP, 23 Ks) and Baltimore's Nick Markakis (.403, 2 HRs, 10 RBIs).

Michael Walsh is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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