MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins saw one of their worst fears realized on Wednesday afternoon when left-hander Francisco Liriano left his start early with elbow pain in his throwing arm.
Liriano (12-3, 2.16 ERA) exited the game against the A's in the top of the third inning after throwing just 28 pitches. The left-hander threw what appeared to be a slider to Bobby Kielty on the first pitch and grimaced with pain as he came out of his pitching motion.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and assistant trainer Dave Pruemer ran out to check on Liriano, and the pitcher was taken immediately out of the game.
Following the 1-0 loss to the A's, the Twins indicated their star southpaw will be shut down for the duration of the season.
"Obviously he won't be pitching again," Gardenhire said. "Something is in there bothering and continuing to stop him. ... Obviously when he gets in a game and puts a little extra torque in there, something is not right. We have to make sure we stop it and do what we have to do."
This start was the first for Liriano since Aug. 7, when he left a start in Detroit after just four innings due to pain in his left elbow. The 22-year-old had gone through a rehabilitation program to strengthen his shoulder, which was determined to be a cause of a very mild strain of his ulnar collateral ligament in the elbow.
"This guy has a bright future," center fielder Torii Hunter said. "Maybe we just need to let him heal for the offseason and have him back for Spring Training. ... Hopefully he can get it taken care of and come back next year or the year after next."
Liriano made one rehabilitation start for Triple-A Rochester in its playoff run and threw three scoreless innings, where he didn't allow a hit and struck out four. He was scheduled to throw around 60 pitches in this outing, and the club had hoped he would remain on track to help them in its playoff chase.
Rookie Matt Garza, who was originally scheduled to start on Wednesday before Liriano was cleared to return, came in to replace Liriano, and he allowed just one run on eight hits with one walk and four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.