When the Twins went to face the White Sox early in 2011, things were not looking good. They were 9-18 and their best starting pitcher, Francisco Liriano, had an ERA over 9.00 in 23 innings. He also entered with 18 strikeouts and 18 walks. While the rest of the season didn’t go according to plan, the May 3rd no-hitter from Liriano was certainly a fun day.
The day didn’t start well for Liriano, as he walked Juan Pierre to start the game, and then Ramirez lined a ball right at Valencia for an out. Luckily he got a double play from Adam Dunn and escaped the first inning.
Liriano would walk yet another batter in the second inning as Carlos Quentin reached base with one out. It certainly wasn’t looking like Liriano had his best stuff early on. I’m honestly not sure if he ever really gathered his best stuff to be honest. Once again he would escape the inning with a double play, this time off the bat of Alex Rios.
Something interesting about this no-hitter is that it is just one of five since 1961 to have two strikeouts or less. You need a lot of good fielding (and luck) in order for that to happen. Liriano would get one of his two strikeouts in the third inning against Ramon Castro.
When the fourth inning rolled around, Liriano once again walked Pierre in what was already a strange outing. This was his third walk already. He would also record his only other strikeout this inning when Adam Dunn stepped to the plate. Of course Liriano had to keep his one walk per inning line intact so he walked Konerko for his fourth walk in four innings.
The fifth inning was the first clean 1-2-3 inning for Liriano. No-hitter through five. He kept up his solid rhythm in the sixth as he once again set down the side in order and he needed just three more no-hit innings to finish it off. The seventh inning is when it really set in. After two easy outs, Quentin hit one down the third base line, but Danny Valencia made a very nice grab and throw to keep the no-hitter going.
The eighth inning was a bit scary as Liriano left some pitches over the middle and walked another batter but he got his third double play to end the inning. One more inning to go but Liriano’s pitch count was rising and the Twins were up just 1-0 from a Jason Kubel home run.
The ninth started with Brent Morel of the White Sox. Liriano was at 102 pitches and was likely to be pulled if anyone got a hit. Matt Capps was warming up, but Liriano retired Morel on a 3-1 count, One down. The next hitter was Juan Pierre who already had two walks. He would walk for a third time after working a full count and Alexei Ramirez stepped to the plate. Liriano got him to pop out to Matt Tolbert at shortstop and the only one standing between Liriano and history was Adam Dunn. On the seventh pitch of the at bat, Dunn lined out to Tolbert at shortstop and the no-hitter was complete.
Liriano finished with a line of 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 K, and 6 BB. There is a reason some considered it to be the least exciting no-hitter. He never really had his best stuff and he was walking hitters or getting to three ball counts all day. But hey, it still goes in the record books as a no-hitter.
What are your thoughts on this game? Is it one you often forget happened, because that’s what happened to me and I’m not sure why. Leave your comments on the game below!