Inside Pitch: Road Woes Continue

Radke has been in a season-long slide.

In this edition of Twins' Inside Pitch, Francisco Liriano appears ready to enter the rotation, the Twins' fall to 3-13 on the road this season, Torii Hunter is having a hot May, and much more.

Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano is warming up in the bullpen.

That is, warming up for a potential turn in the rotation if Kyle Lohse stumbles again Wednesday in his start at Texas.

Liriano, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, is only with the major league club because his stuff was too good to send him to the minors to open the season in the Triple-A rotation. Yet the five spots in the Twins' rotation were set, so he has been pitching in relief.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who made the successful argument to keep Liriano out of camp, now says his prized starter-in-waiting is probably ready for a 60- to 70-pitch season starting debut, if the team decides to make a change.

Brad Radke, who had another poor outing Monday, and Carlos Silva both have struggled most of the season, but both recently pitched well and are not considered immediate concerns -- at least not as much as Lohse, whose ERA is the worst on the staff (9.71) and who is coming off consecutive poor outings.

"We'll see here over the next couple days how these guys do," Gardenhire said. "That's going to tell us a lot about where we're at. I'm hoping the starters all get to clicking and we can have one of those bullpens with (Liriano) in it for a while.

"But if it looks like it's not going to work out, it's not a bad scenario to put him in the rotation. It's the best of both worlds."

REPLAY: Five days after his best start of the season, Brad Radke continued his inexplicable season slide -- lasting just five innings and allowing 14 of the 24 batters he faced to reach base Monday in a 6-4 loss at Texas.

Radke (3-4) dropped to 1-8 in his career at Arlington, but of more concern to the Twins is his 7.75 ERA -- especially with his next start scheduled for this weekend against the White Sox.

NOTES, QUOTES:

  • CF Torii Hunter, who hit .189 in April, is batting .448 (13 for 29) through eight games in May. He has two homers and seven RBIs this month -- all of it coinciding with a move into the cleanup spot.

  • DH Rondell White still is batting just .161 this season, but he has a six-game hitting streak -- with exactly one hit in each of the six games.

  • RF Michael Cuddyer went 2 for 4 Monday, extending his hitting streak to nine games, spread over more than two weeks. He's hitting .429 (15 for 35) during the streak with six doubles, a homer and six RBIs.

  • The Twins extended their player-development agreement with Triple-A Rochester for another two years, the team announced Monday. The Red Wings left long-time parent club Baltimore to sign a PDA with Minnesota in 2003. The new agreement extends through 2008.

  • The Twins' loss at Texas on Monday dropped their road record to 3-13 -- just one game better than Kansas City's major league-worst 2-14. Minnesota has lost four straight on the road and 10 straight games in which it has faced a winning team on the road.

  • RHP Brad Radke has just one quality start in seven starts so far this season.

  • Through Monday's 6-4 loss to Texas, the Twins have the American League's worst ERA (5.74) and the second-lowest-scoring lineup (131 runs).
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