Notes: Can Garza, Baker step up?

Notes: Can Garza, Baker step up?

CLEVELAND -- With Francisco Liriano out for the season, the Twins will need some other young pitchers to step up during the final two weeks.

Right-handers Scott Baker, who will start Sunday's game against the Indians, and Matt Garza, who is taking Liriano's spot in the rotation, will get that chance as the Twins battle for both the American League Central title and the Wild Card spot.

"We'll see what they can do," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "This is a chance for them to pitch and help the team."

Baker is 4-8 with a 6.72 ERA in 14 starts. He will go against the Indians' Paul Byrd in the finale of the four-game set. Garza, who pitched well after Liriano had to leave Wednesday's game against Oakland, will start sometime next week. He was the losing pitcher in the 1-0 defeat, but held the A's to one run in 5 2/3 innings. Garza is 1-5 with a 5.50 ERA in seven games (six starts). The Twins are off Monday before continuing this road trip at Boston and Baltimore.

Radke update: It would give the Twins a big boost if Brad Radke (stress fracture right shoulder socket) could return, but Gardenhire is being cautious.

"He's been playing catch," Gardenhire said. "That's all he's been doing. There's no telling where we'll go from there."

Radke last pitched Aug. 25, when he threw two innings against the White Sox.

Moving on: Gardenhire admits his players were downcast when Liriano left Wednesday's game.

"Everyone was a little distressed," he said. "You could sense it. That's a tough thing to see."

There's no time for a team to feel sorry for itself in baseball, however.

"We can't linger on it," Gardenhire said. "Everybody in there [the clubhouse] is upbeat today. It's sad, but it happens in this game. We have to play baseball."

Nevin time: With left-hander Cliff Lee pitching for the Indians on Thursday night, Phil Nevin started at designated hitter and batted eighth. Nevin is hitting .235 (4-for-17) since being acquired from the Cubs on Aug. 31.

"He's definitely a guy we have to give some at-bats to," Gardenhire said. "He's been playing against left-handers and has had some good swings. I will have to get him some at-bats against right-handers, too. I'll have to look at the matchups."

Rookie night: As part of the annual rookie initiation, Twins rookies had their regular clothes taken away by the veterans and were forced to wear bizarre outfits on the trip from Minnesota to Cleveland on Wednesday. The clothing included dresses, a Tarzan and witch outfit and other outfits that resembled those from the Village People.

Pitchers Johan Santana and Carlos Silva took the rookies to Jacobs Field, where they stood on the left-field Home Run Porch for a couple of innings during the Indians-Royals game. Gardenhire and his coaches were watching the game in a Cleveland restaurant when, much to their surprise, the cameras showed the rookies.

"We saw them," Gardenhire said. "We looked up at the TV and there they were."

Minor League update: Rochester evened the best-of-five International League Championship Series at 1-1 with a 6-1 win over Toledo on Wednesday. Right-hander Kevin Slowey allowed one run and struck out six in 7 2/3 innings. Garrett Jones hit a three-run homer and Andres Torres added a solo shot.

Game 3 was Thursday night in Toledo.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan said some players will be called up when the championship series ends.

On deck: Santana (18-5, 2.75 ERA) faces Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona (1-9, 6.24 ERA) in the second game of the series Friday at 6:05 p.m. CT.

Steve Herrick is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.