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With rotation spot in jeopardy, Francisco Liriano pitches no-hitter

May 3, 2011, 10:25 PM EDT

Drew Butera, Francisco Liriano, Danny Valencia

Francisco Liriano has brought no-hit stuff to the mound plenty of times in his 95 major league starts, but this was a major upset:

1. Liriano entered tonight 1-4 with a 9.13 ERA and a 1.90 WHIP this season.  He was very much in danger of losing his rotation spot to Kevin Slowey with another bad outing.

2. Liriano had never pitched a complete game as a major leaguer.  He had gotten just one out in the seventh inning this year.

3. He was at 86 pitches after six innings tonight.  He hadn’t thrown more than 97 pitches in a game this season, and had he thrown 20-25 pitches in the seventh tonight, he might not have been brought back out for the eighth even if he still had the no-hitter intact.

Liriano, though, shook it all off and became the first Twin to throw a no-hitter since Eric Milton in a 1-0 win over the White Sox tonight.  He outpitched Edwin Jackson, who famously threw a 149-pitch no-hitter for the Diamondbacks last year.

Liriano ended this one at 123 pitches.  He was able to finish it off because he threw just seven pitches in the seventh and eight in the eighth.  Double plays after three of his six walks helped a bunch, as did some fine plays from Denard Span and Danny Valencia.

The Twins will hope that it’s a turning point for Liriano or maybe even for the team as a whole.  For what it’s worth, Liriano never looked as dominant tonight as he did at certain points during his strong 2010 season.  A team hitting better than the White Sox are very possibly would have gotten to him tonight.  Still, it was obviously a big step in the right direction for Liriano, and it means that if Slowey is going to replace anyone in Minnesota’s rotation, it will be Nick Blackburn.

  1. Lukehart80 - May 3, 2011 at 10:30 PM

    How many guys have had a 6.61 ERA at the end of a no-hitter??? Also, this is the first no-hitter since 1984 with two or fewer strikeouts.

    I’d wager he gets to keep his spot in the rotation.

    • Bob Timmermann - May 4, 2011 at 1:37 AM

      Scott Erickson had an ERA of 5.28 after his no-hitter in 1994.

  2. philosofly - May 3, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    I wonder if the Twins will still be shopping him? Billy Smith will ponder it over a box of donuts, two pizzas and a few diet cokes (gotta watch the calories) tonight.

  3. micker716 - May 3, 2011 at 10:44 PM

    For half a season in 2006 this guy had the best stuff in baseball. He hasn’t looked anywhere near the same since surgery. I hope I’m wrong, but this looks like a fluke.

  4. captainkeekles - May 3, 2011 at 10:58 PM

    2 K’s, 6 walks. I’d dare say this was an uglier no hitter than Edwin Jackson’s last year.

    • purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 1:54 AM

      Amen! It’s just one of those quirks in baseball folklore that no-hitters are automatically associated with great pitching feats/performances. This is no greater a feat than getting credit for pitching a 5 inning no hitter that winds up official with the rest of the game rained out.

      6 walks and 126 pitches against one of baseball’s biggest slumping teams? I guess “effectively wild” is one way to characterize it, but it’s NOT a great pitching performance by any standard other than the statistical anomaly that goes with it.

      • banksatdixie - May 4, 2011 at 8:27 AM

        Holding any Major League Baseball team to ZERO hits in a 9 inning game is impressive. Was it pretty? No. Will it go down as an all-time great performance? No. But I’d wager eating the shirt I’m wearing that you couldn’t no-hit a 14 year old team.

  5. cur68 - May 3, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    He did this against the CWS and, with apologies to Sox fans everywhere, they are pretty anemic when it comes to offense. While I am happy for him and his achievement I wish he’d done this to a way better team. Preferably the Yankees or Red Sox.

    • schrutebeetfarms - May 4, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      The Twins beat the Yankees?
      Lol sure.

  6. halladaysbicepts - May 3, 2011 at 11:15 PM

    Congratulations to Liriano. A no-hitter is always historic. Well done. However, luck is always involved with no-hitters. For example, Steve Carlton, the greatest Phillies pitcher that ever lived, never threw a no-hitter, but pitched a ton of 2 hitters.

    Terry Mulholland, also a Phillies pitcher, pitched one, which I saw at the stadium. Greatest game I ever was at because of the history and rareness. Nevertheless, Mulholland was a mediocre pitcher.

    Even mediocre pitchers have their day in the sun.

    • kiwicricket - May 4, 2011 at 12:20 AM

      I am going to need a few minutes to ponder what you have written…

  7. unsatisfiedmind - May 3, 2011 at 11:18 PM

    Between Hawk Harrelson’s illness keeping him from announcing a no-hitter against his White Sox and the lack of any argument over the phantom tag in the 8th, this is beginning to feel like 1919 all over again…

    • kiwicricket - May 4, 2011 at 1:37 AM

      Fully agree about the ‘Hawk’. The guy ruins games just listening to him.
      Phantom tag? You Sir, have remarkable eyesight for an elderly gentleman.

      • Alex K - May 4, 2011 at 9:27 AM

        Beckham grounded into a double play that should have been ruled a fielder’s choice when the throw from the second baseman pulled Morneau off the bag. Morneau swiped a tag and missed. The ump called Beckham out. Still not a hit, but it was a baserunner the White Sox lost.

      • purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 10:33 AM

        I just have to laugh everytime I read posts like this. Sure, Hawk is a true homer, but isn’t that what you’d expect and want out of the home announcers for YOUR teams? Give me a break!

        As for his eyesight? With a flat panel high definition screen within inches of his nose he doesn’t need much vision to see a bad call.

        This was a classic “in the neighborhood” baseball call though, and I’m sure that no umpire wants to screw up a no hitter or a perfect game with a questionable call after what happened to the kid in Detroit on a blown call.

        If you want to hate on any announcers, pick the self-promoting pompous jerks out there. These include Mc Carver, Walton and obnoxious Bobby Valentine.

    • Brian Murphy - May 4, 2011 at 1:47 AM

      I guess the only difference from this year’s team and 1919 is that team led the league in runs and was 24-7 after 31 games.

      • purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 10:53 AM

        Brian: If you’ve been following the latest on baseball from the 19teens, new evidence has just been uncovered that shows that the reason the White Sox threw the 1919 World Series is because they found out how much under the table money the Cubs got for throwing the 1918 World Series. Seems like the White Sox had a pretty good set of teachers!

  8. Brian Murphy - May 4, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    It was Liriano’s first complete game at ANY level of pro ball. Considering the stuff he had when he came into the league and even now, that is absolutely crazy.

  9. paperlions - May 4, 2011 at 6:26 AM

    Of his 123 pitches, only 66 were strikes. Only 2 Ks, and 1st strike pitches to only 11 of 30 batters. Not a good pitching performance, just a lucky one….still fun to watch though.

  10. gregbeau - May 4, 2011 at 7:17 AM

    Didn’t get to watch the game live, but I saw the highlights today including the final out with commentary by the White Sox broadcasters, Steve Stone and whoever was filling in for Harrelson. It was the most classless commentary ever. Stone sounded like he was watching someone cleaning a toilet on the final out and his partner followed up with a disgusted-sounding “Unbelievable”. Way to stay classy, boys.

  11. banksatdixie - May 4, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    The White Sox are a classless organization, period. Ozzie Guillen sets a great example for them all.

    • purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 10:34 AM

      … and that would make you a clueless jackass!

      • banksatdixie - May 4, 2011 at 10:51 AM

        I’m sure you’d win the popular vote for that around here.

      • purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 10:55 AM

        banks… who the fuc& are you to critique an entire organization? You ever work for the team? You ever cover the team as a professional broadcaster or writer? You ever been in the teams clubhouse? I’d wager that the closest you’ve ever come to the team and their organization has been to buy a ticket into a game that they were playing in. That would make you, well, clueless!

        Before you run your pie hole next time, be able to back it up, pal!

      • banksatdixie - May 4, 2011 at 11:01 AM

        The only thing that anyone would need to know in order to critique the class of an organization would be to see how they handle their public affairs. Tweeting during a game you got tossed out of in the first inning….total class, you’re right. The announcers last night….total class. Be a bigger homer, pal. I’ve forgotten more baseball than you’ll ever know.

      • purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 11:30 AM

        basnksy… another ignorant post? puhl-ease! stop already; you’ve already made a big enough fool out of yourself as is.

        So you’ve forgotten more baseball than I’ve ever known? Another baseless and totally stupid comment. I’m sure I’m a lot older (and obviously wiser), than you are and you have no idea what my background is (nor is it any of your business either). Yet you seem to fancy yourself an authority on everything and anything, don’t you? Ugh!

        I don’t see what tweeting has to do with anything, much less your supposition that by Ozzie doing so it somehow makes the White Sox a “classless organization”. I got news for you pal… big league organizations have hundreds of employees working for them, not just the manager and one manager. To try and paint an entire organization with the same brush is like saying that all Muslims are terrorists simply because Osama Bib Laden was one.

        I don’t care if you do or don’t like the White Sox home announcers or not; if you don’t, then subscribe to MLB Audio and listen to the opposing teams radio announcers over the internet as you watch the games. Nobody’s sticking a gun to your head to listen to Hawk and Stoney you know.

        Ozzie by the way has NEVER ripped ANY opposing team with the one exception of his classic (and spot on), rant about Buck Showalter when he was managing Texas, and that was several years ago when he was still new to being a big league manager. Venting a little anger towards the umps by tweeting got him in trouble, but if you were watching that game, and you know even half as much about baseball as your self-proclaim yourself to know, you would have seen one of the worst jobs of umpiring (and for both sides), behind the plate I’ve seen in several years.

      • banksatdixie - May 4, 2011 at 11:35 AM

        You’re right again. The public ripping of Swisher last year before that series was nothing.

        Its all good buddy, you’re old and wise. Enjoy the cellar my friend.

      • purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 12:05 PM

        banksy… that the best comeback you have? Heck, I would have thought that you could have at least brought a knife to the gunfight! (LOL!).

        Goofball Swisher is a clown and a horse’s ass and was a clubhouse cancer in Chicago. That has nothing to do with “class”; them’s just the facts, son!

        You obviously (not to anyone’s surprise), don’t understand White Sox fans either. As long as it’s not the reckless spending Tigers or the feared rival Twins running away from the White Sox in the AL Central or the cross-town Cubs being in contention, there’s still plenty of time for the White Sox to come back, and if they don’t? Unless you’re say a hapless Pirate fan, some years are up and some years are down. That’s just baseball, buddy.

        By the way, you want to let everyone who may not already know who YOUR team is? Or are you afraid of having a little heat brought into your kitchen?

  12. purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    Even Morneau admits he missed the relay throw tag in the bottom of the 8th inning last night:

    In addition to exceptional defensive plays by third baseman Danny Valencia and center fielder Denard Span, left-hander Francisco Liriano received help in his no-hitter from a call from first base umpire Paul Emmel.

    Emmel ruled that Gordon Beckham had been tagged by Justin Morneau at first base to complete a double play to end the eighth inning.

    Replays showed that Morneau came off the bag to catch Alexi Casilla’s relay throw and that his sweeping tag missed Beckham.

    “I haven’t looked at replay, but he (Emmel) said he tagged me on the shoulder,” Beckham said. “I got that being wrong. I haven’t looked at it, but I didn’t feel him tagging me on the shoulder. That’s the only reason I was upset. I didn’t argue long. What’s the point?

    “I just didn’t feel him tag me, but I didn’t see it. Did he tag me? It is what it is. I was upset because that extends the inning and maybe give someone else a shot and it is what it is.”

    Morneau didn’t disagree with Beckham’s assessment.

    “Those plays are close,” Morneau said. “You try to tag him and you hope that you get him, and sometimes you do and something you don’t. You try to make your reaction like you get him. I don’t know if he (Emmel) is going to be to happy with me once he looks at it. It’s part of the game. You try to sell it. You try to get outs for your pitchers whenever you can.”

    • purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      One other thought… the ump either missing or choosing to ignore the tag at the bottom of the 8th inning as far as I’m concerned is “ok”; even though this was a very sloppy no-hitter, I’d hate to see any pitcher lose a no-hitter or a perfect game like the kid in Detroit did over a bang bang missed call on the part of an umpire.

      Bottom line? In this situation, you have to give the ump the benefit of the doubt and it’s the right thing to do to give the pitcher the call at IB. Had the call been blown early in the game I would have felt differently, but the bad call that cost that kid a legit perfect game in Detroit shouldn’t happen again to anyone… not even (gulp!), a Cub pitcher!

      • schrutebeetfarms - May 4, 2011 at 12:54 PM

        However, making the correct call would not have cost him the no-hitter. They already had the out and second.

  13. schrutebeetfarms - May 4, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    “who the fuc& are you to critique an entire organization? You ever work for the team? You ever cover the team as a professional broadcaster or writer? You ever been in the teams clubhouse?”

    Lmao the best unintentional comedy I’ve seen in a while. Purdueman always good for a laugh. Thanks man.

    • purdueman - May 4, 2011 at 6:40 PM

      scgytuerbrainless… you’re so pathetic that you’re beyond anyone feeling sorry for you, much less caring any about your self-pronounced “expert” opinions. In fact, you’re so full of shit that I hope nobody sticks a pin in you, because you’ll bury the nearest town/city alive.

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