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.