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CWS@MIN: Liriano dominant over seven frames vs. Sox

Coming off a solid Spring Training that raised his expectations this year, Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano entered the 2012 campaign feeling a bit too much pressure for his liking.

These days? Not so much.

"I don't feel any pressure right now," said Liriano, who will get the ball in the final game of a four-game set against the Royals. "Starting the season, [I felt pressure] because in Spring Training, I was pitching so good. So I was thinking too much, trying to do too much. Now I'm just trying to go up there, relax, pitch the ballgame and enjoy myself."

That mindset certainly showed in his last time out, when Liriano limited the White Sox to one run on four hits in seven innings. He is 2-2 with a 2.41 ERA in six starts since returning to the rotation on May 30.

"We're seeing some really good fastballs, we're seeing some nice breaking balls and some nice changeups," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "More than anything else, I think you're seeing a lot of pop on his fastball. It's really jumping out of his hand; he's in control out on the mound a lot better. That's what we need."

Opposing Liriano will be Royals left-hander Bruce Chen (7-6, 4.53 ERA). Chen has seven wins in his last 10 starts, and he's allowed three runs or fewer in eight of them.

Chen's most recent outing was especially indicative of what type of pitcher he is. After falling behind early he was deceptive enough to limit Tampa Bay to just one earned run in seven frames.

"He's such a good big league pitcher, because he changes speeds very effectively, he throws strikes, he's on the attack, different arm angles, different locations, keeps hitters off-balance really well," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Royals: Yost setting rotation through All-Star break
• With eight games remaining until the All-Star break, Yost has set his entire rotation, except for two games. He's still trying to figure out who will pitch Tuesday night in Toronto and July 8 in Detroit.

"It's got a chance to be [Vin] Mazzaro if I don't use him [in long relief]," Yost said. "But it might not."

• The Royals optioned lefty reliever Tommy Hottovy to Triple-A Omaha following Saturday's doubleheader. Hottovy was the club's first-ever 26th man, as teams are now permitted to add an extra player for certain doubleheaders.

"It's important when a team is playing a day-night doubleheader inside a nine- or 10-game stretch," Hottovy said of the rule. "It's tough, especially on the pitching staff."

Twins: Doumit signs extension
• On Friday, the Twins signed catcher Ryan Doumit through the 2014 season, a two-year extension worth $7 million.

Doumit signed a one-year-deal with Minnesota before the season after playing the first seven years of his career with the Pirates. He is hitting .276 with seven homers and 34 RBIs.

"The last couple days it was brought to my attention they were interested in bringing me back, which was very flattering obviously," Doumit said. "The feeling was mutual. I called my agent. I said 'Let's get something done.' I love being here. It's a great situation for me. It's a great clubhouse. There's a great group of guys here."

Worth noting
• Joe Mauer's success against Kansas City continued on Saturday, when he went 2-for-4 with a homer. In his career, the Twins catcher is hitting .351 against the Royals with an on-base percentage of .435.

• Royals cleanup hitter Billy Butler has struggled against Liriano, hitting just .185 with a homer in 27 at-bats.

• Twins relievers have posted a 2.17 ERA in seven games against the Royals this season.

• In 22 games at Target Field since the stadium opened in 2010, the Royals are just 7-15. Comments