Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 7/6/12
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Next Tuesday's All-Star Game, in essence, will serve as one grand talent show for the Texas Rangers. An eye-opening eight Rangers will represent their squad in the Midsummer Classic. Yet, Friday night in Arlington, the Twins' starting pitcher outshone every Ranger he encountered. Francisco Liriano flashed back to his 2006 all-star form at times, spurring a 5-1 Twins victory. Minnesota's most talented pitcher, Liriano looked the part Friday. The 28-year-old lefty looked comfortable on the mound virtually throughout. His slider had bite, and his fastball popped the catcher's mit with authority, often registering 94 mph on the radar gun. When Liriano did encounter trouble, he typically displayed poise. "He seems more under control and composed," Twins veteran Justin Morneau said of Liriano, who improved to 3-7 this season. "He's attacking the strike zone," Morneau added. Texas mounted a potential threat in Friday's sixth frame, before the Twins' starter induced a double-play groundout, followed by a Yorvit Torrealba strikeout. Liriano got into another slight jam in the seventh, but still got Brandon Snyder to strike out to end the threat, thanks to a nasty, 87-mph slider. The AL West-leading Rangers (50-34) entered the night boasting the best team batting average in all of baseball, at .281. The way Liriano kept Texas' bats at bay must've been impressive to opposing scouts; the Yankees, Blue Jays and Braves all have varying levels of interest in Liriano as the trade deadline nears, according to a recent Star Tribune report. But, if Friday is a preview of things to come, Minnesota may want to hang on to Liriano for awhile. The native of the Dominican Republic now owns a 2.74 ERA since rejoining the Twins' rotation on May 30 following a brief banishment to the bullpen. Friday in Texas, Liriano lasted 6 23 innings, producing six strikeouts to go along with a half-dozen walks. He wasn't perfect, but he was as intriguing as ever.
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