Francisco Liriano was the least likely pitcher to get a no-hitter. However, despite having an ERA over nine, Liriano completely shut down the Chicago White Sox Tuesday for the Minnesota Twins. It was only his second win of the season and his first complete game ever, making it all the more shocking. However, it was equally surprising because he did it for the Twins, who were more desperate for some kind of good news than almost anyone in baseball.
Minnesota is used to being on top of the AL Central, but after the first month of the year, the team is just fighting to stay out of last place. The Twins usually aren’t this unlikely until they get eliminated by the Yankees in the playoffs, yet they had a head start on their misery to start 2011.
Just hours before Liriano threw his no-hitter, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan wrote about the misery the Twins have gone through. He pointed out how Minnesota had the worst record in baseball going into Tuesday, 9-18, before the win in Chicago. The Twins had been outscored by 64 runs for the year, due to “walking too many, striking out too few” and being “porous on defense, punchless on offense,” among other things.
In the case of Liriano, Passan commented that he looked like “‘a No. 1 starter’ for a Triple-A team.” Even after Tuesday night’s masterpiece, the pitcher is still 2-4 with a 6.61 ERA for the year, and the Twins are still 10 games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians in the first week of May.
But Minnesota and its embattled players have to start coming back somehow, and a no-hitter is as good a way to start off as any. Naturally, it got a little sloppy at times, as Liriano had six walks and only two strikeouts. In addition, the White Sox are playing just as ugly as the Twins are. They are now the new last place team in the AL Central and in baseball, so that might take a bit out of it.
Chicago and Minnesota are usually top contenders, but they are both falling on hard times. Only a performance like Liriano’s could have made a game between the two worst teams in the league into a top story. Despite the hot starts of pitchers like Josh Johnson, Jared Weaver, Roy Halladay and many others, it was a 1-4 hurler on a last place team who got the year’s first no-hitter.
The mere fact that Liriano and the Twins even got a win is enough for them to celebrate. Now Minnesota will hope to get a few more before long and try to stay out of baseball’s basement for longer than a day.
SI.com- “Twins’ Francisco Liriano throws no-hitter”
Yahoo Sports- “No joy in Minnesota during Twins’ slump”
SB Nation- “The Meaning Of Francisco Liriano’s No-Hitter”