Maybe Ron Gardenhire needs to threaten his pitchers with demotion more frequently.
Faced with the possibility of being moved from the starting rotation to the bullpen, Francisco Liriano responded with the first-no hitter for the Twins since Eric Milton did it on September 11, 1999, and the Twins held on for a 1-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.
Liriano, who came into the game with a 1-4 record and an ERA of 9.13. . .which means he was giving up an earned run per inning. . .got his first ever Major League complete game, his first ever Major League shutout and, obviously, his first ever Major League no-hitter.
It certainly wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing no-hitter in the history of the game. Liriano threw 123 pitches, 66 of them for strikes and 57 of them for balls. He issued six walks, including walking White Sox leadoff hitter Juan Pierre three separate times, but still did not allow a hit to the White Sox on the evening. He got some defensive help, too, as Danny Valencia made an outstanding play on a ball down the third base line to retire Carlos Quentin, and Justin Morneau made a great scoop of Matt Tolbert's throw to retire Brent Morel to start the bottom of the ninth.
There was some controversy as well, as the Twins might have gotten a break from the umpiring crew in the eighth. With one out in the inning, Liriano walked Ramon Castro and Brent Lillibridge came in to run for him. Gordon Beckham then grounded to Valencia at third, who went to Alexi Casilla at second for the force on Lillibridge. Casilla's relay throw to first pulled Justin Morneau off of the bag at first, and he swept back behind him in an attempt to tag Beckham. The replays showed, from most angles, that Morneau did not tag Beckham at all, but first base umpire Paul Emmel called Beckham out, much to the chagrin of the White Sox, and the eighth inning came to an end.
Liriano started the ninth by getting Morel to ground out to shortstop. After walking Pierre. . .again. . .he induced a pop out to short from Alexei Ramirez. After running to a full count against Adam Dunn, the White Sox slugger lined out to Tolbert at shortstop as well, and the no-hitter was officially in the history books.
The lone run of the night came when Jason Kubel took an offering from Edwin Jackson in the top of the fourth and deposited it over the right field wall for a solo home run to put the Twins ahead 1-0, a lead they would hold for the rest of the evening.
Liriano's victory raised his record to 2-4 on the year, and lowered his ERA to 6.61. Edwin Jackson, who threw a no-hitter last season, went eight innings for the White Sox (Matt Thornton pitched the ninth) and took the loss, dropping his record to 2-4 on the year as well.
The Twins follow this one up with a businessman's special at U.S. Cellular Field tomorrow to complete this abbreviated series. First pitch will take place at 1:10 PM Central time, and the Twins will send Nick Blackburn (1-4, 5.14 ERA) to the mound. The White Sox will counter with lefty John Danks (0-4, 3.92).