FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano couldn't have looked much better than he did against the Pirates on Sunday at Hammond Stadium.
Liriano didn't allow a hit over five innings, while striking out six and walking just one. He's struck out 18 and walked just two over 13 innings in Spring Training.
Liriano, who has a 2.77 ERA in Grapefruit League play, said he's most proud of his improved control this spring.
"Yeah, limiting walks, trying to go deeper in games, throw less pitches per batter and trying to throw first-pitch pitches for strikes," Liriano said. "I hope they swing early like they were today. And I'm locating my fastball better than last year, too."
Pitching coach Rick Anderson said one of the keys to Liriano's spring success has been his increased usage of his changeup. The pitch helps him slow down his mechanics, while also becoming an out pitch to go along with his slider. Liriano used his changeup 19.5 percent of the time last year, and his slider 28.9 percent of the time.
"I think Joe [Mauer] does a great job of slowing him down, and you can see that with his changeups," Anderson said. "The changeup slows him down, and you saw that today. When he stays on-line and stays tall and on top of pitches, he's pretty good."