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American League Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, May 30th (All times eastern)

Oakland Athletics (22-28) at Minnesota Twins (17-32), 1:10 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: Oakland - Tyson Ross (2-5, 5.79) Minnesota - Francisco Liriano (0-5, 8.47)

(Sports Network) - Francisco Liriano returns to Minnesota's rotation this afternoon when the Twins go after their first sweep of the season in the finale of a three-game set with the Oakland Athletics at Target Field.

Liriano hasn't started since May 7, but has made five relief appearances since and actually pitched pretty well out of the bullpen up until his last outing on Friday against Detroit, which reached him for four runs in just 2 2/3 innings. He had notched four scoreless outings in his previous bullpen appearances.

With Anthony Swarzak struggling in the rotation, Twins' manager Ron Gardenhire has decided to go back to Liriano, who is 0-5 this season and has pitched to an 9.45 earned run average in six starts.

Liriano has faced the A's 11 times (9 starts) and is 2-3 with a 4.56 ERA against them.

Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with righty Tyson Ross, who has lost five of his last six starts. Ross' latest setback came on Friday against the New York Yankees, as he allowed six runs (3 earned) and 11 hits in six innings, dropping him to 2-5 on the year to go along with a 5.79 ERA.

"They're a good-hitting team, and they showed that tonight," said Ross, whose .425 opponents' average by lefties is the highest mark among any pitcher in the American League. "I felt like I was throwing the ball well early, and then I left some pitches up, and they made me pay for it."

Ross is 0-1 and has allowed two runs in just two-thirds of an inning against the Twins.

Minnesota won in dramatic fashion on Tuesday, as Josh Willingham belted a three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to carry the Twins to a 3-2 win. The Twins had been 0-29 when trailing after eight innings this season.

"I go up there to have a good at-bat and try to hit the ball hard somewhere," Willingham said. "I've tried to hit home runs before and it doesn't work out. I was trying to keep it simple and get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it and that's what happened."

A's closer Brian Fuentes served up the game-winner, as Oakland saw its losing streak reach seven games, the team's longest since a 10-game slide May 30-June 9, 2011. The A's also blew a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth of Monday's 5-4 defeat.

"They fight. The effort's there. Every single day," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "It's disappointing, frustrating, the whole bit to be where we are right now. You just have to keep plugging. We were one out away. You just have to keep going."

The A's offense continues to be atrocious, as the team has managed just 12 runs over the drought and is hitting a league low .212 on the year.

Minnesota's last three-game home sweep of Oakland was Aug. 13-15, 2010.

05/30 10:30:19 ET