MINNEAPOLIS -- Francisco Liriano's 15-strikeout performance on Friday conjured memories of his dominant 2006 season for manager Ron Gardenhire.
The lefty's 15 punchouts tied him with Chris Sale and Max Scherzer for the Major League season-high.
"His stuff was [like in '06]," Gardenhire said. "Disappearing. We saw hitters swinging and actually looking up like, 'What was that?' Back in '06 when he was on his run, we were on the third-base side, and you'd see hitters take a swing and look back in our dugout and go 'Wow.' That's the type of stuff he had last night."
Unfortunately for Liriano and the Twins, he also became the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out at least 15 while also allowing a grand slam. Minnesota lost 6-3, leaving Liriano the first Twin ever to strike out 15-plus and lose.
Still, Liriano showed mettle in continuing to dominate after allowing the grand slam to Jonny Gomes. He retired 14 of the 15 batters he faced after Gomes' fourth-inning homer, racking up six more strikeouts.
"After that, I said to myself, 'What's done is done,'" Liriano said. "Nothing I can do about it. So go out there and make some good pitches and give a chance to my team to win the ballgame."
That resolve was absent in his first six starts this season, when he went 0-5 with a 9.45 ERA and was sent to the bullpen. He owns a 2.82 ERA in nine starts since rejoining the rotation on May 30.
"He's gone through an awful lot," Gardenhire said. "I think Frankie was trying to get ahead and Gomes put a good swing on it. It bothered him obviously to give up a grand slam, but it didn't affect him the rest of the night."
Willingham thumping more at home than on road
MINNEAPOLIS -- Josh Willingham has had no problems hitting home runs at Target Field since becoming a Twin.
Fourteen of the right-hander's 22 home runs this season have come in 41 home games after Saturday's contest. He's experienced less success away from Target Field, hitting eight homers in 42 road games. His slugging percentage on the road is a robust .473, but at home it's an astounding .660.
None of Willingham's power has surprised Twins manager Ron Gardenhire.
"He's a pull hitter," Gardenhire said. "[Left field] is probably the friendliest area for home runs [at Target Field]. But he's not afraid to go to center field. He's not afraid to go to left-center field. He's just a strong young man."
Willingham's two home runs on Friday marked his 11th career multihomer game, as well as his fifth season with 20-plus dingers. This year marks his fastest trip to the 20-plus plateau, though, as he needed only 82 games. He needed 96 games last year to hit 20 homers on the way to finishing with a career-high 29.
"He's kind of entertaining to watch," Gardenhire said. "He's got a chance every time he goes up there, because he's so damn strong."
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.