With perhaps his rotation spot on the line, Francisco Liriano came up HUGE tonight in Chicago. Before the game, I noted that Liriano needed to get the walks under control, and the offense needed to get back on track. Neither of these happened, but this is still a game many of us will never forget, as Liriano no-hit the White Sox, despite walking six batters and a fourth inning Jason Kubel home run being the only offense on the night. With the no hitter, Liriano pitched the first complete game of his career, and we finally saw the Twins celebrate an emotional victory. It was also the first Twins no hitter since Eric Milton in 1999.
In pitching the no hitter, Liriano "out Edwin Jacksoned" Chicago starter Edwin Jackson. Last July, when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jackson pitched perhaps the strangest no hitter ever, walking eight and needing 149 pitches to finish out the game. Tonight, Liriano walked six batters, striking out only two, and threw 123 pitches, only 66 of which were for strikes. But when the White Sox put the ball in play, it was generally a weak ground ball or pop up.
The defense came up big tonight, with Denard Span making a nice running catch in the fifth inning, and Danny Valencia made a spectacular play on a Carlos Quentin ground ball down the third base line, fielding the ball in foul territory and making a great throw to save the no hitter. In the ninth inning, Brent Morel grounded to shortstop Matt Tolbert, who bounced his throw to first. Fortunately, Justin Morneau scooped the low throw for the first out. After a Juan Pierre walk and a low Alexei Ramirez pop up, Adam Dunn came to the plate with two outs. Always a home run threat, with the Twins only up one run, the game could end at any time with a walkoff home run or an out. And after Liriano fought back from 3-0 to a full count, Dunn got decent wood on a 3-2 pitch. But his line drive was right at Tolbert, who gloved the ball and end the game.
Enjoy this, Twins fans. No studs and duds tonight, I figure it's pretty obvious.