Last night in Chicago, Francisco Liriano threw the fifth no-hitter in the history of the Minnesota Twins (the seventh in franchise history if you go back to the team's days as the Washington Senators).
How did Liriano's no-hitter compare to the others in the history of the Minnesota Twins? Let's take a brief look at all of them.
We're going to focus mostly on the no-hitters that have taken place in Twins history, but for reference's sake, the first no-hitter in the history of the franchise came way back on July 1, 1920 during the team's Washington Senators days, as the legendary Walter "Big Train" Johnson led the Senators to a 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox. (I believe Sid Hartman covered that game.) That was one of two no-hitters in Senators history, as the second one was also against the Red Sox, as Bobby Burke threw a no-no on August 8, 1931 in a 5-0 Senators victory.
The Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961 to become the Twins, and their first no-hitter in Minnesota came just one year later on August 26, 1962. Jack Kralick was the pitcher of record in that one, as the Twins defeated the Kansas City Athletics at Metropolitan Stadium by a score of 1-0. Kralick allowed only one baserunner, courtesy of a walk with one out in the ninth inning. Like Liriano's no-hitter, it came in a 1-0 game, and the Twins' only run came on a sacrifice fly by Lenny Green in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Minnesota's next no-hitter came nearly five years to the day, as right-hander Dean Chance no-hit the Indians in the second game of a doubleheader on August 25, 1967 in Cleveland. The Twins won by a score of 2-1. . .yes, Chance allowed no hits, but the Indians still managed a run. The Indians actually took a lead in that one in the bottom of the first, as Chance walked the first two Indians hitters, and an error on third baseman Cesar Tovar loaded the bases. Chance then uncorked a wild pitch to allow the Tribe to score and take a 1-0 lead, but allowed no further damage. Harmon Killebrew's RBI single in the second tied things up, and Tovar scored on a balk by Cleveland's Sonny Siebert in the top of the 6th to provide the final margin of victory. It's the only no-hitter in franchise history in which the Twins allowed a run to score.
Chance allowed six baserunners in that game, the same as Liriano did last night, which is the most baserunners a Twins pitcher has allowed in a no-hitter.
The Twins waited more than a quarter of a century for their next no-hitter. That one came on April 27, 1994, courtesy of Scott Erickson. The big right-hander no-hit the Milwaukee Brewers at the Metrodome, as the Twins won rather easily by a final score of 6-0. Erickson walked four in that one, but the Brewers could do nothing with them. The April date marked the earliest in the season a Twins' pitcher has thrown a no-hitter.
Five seasons later, the Twins got their fourth no-hitter since moving to Minnesota, as Eric Milton. . .who, like Liriano last night, came into the game have struggled through much of the year. . .led the Twins past the Anaheim Angels on September 11, 1999, by a score of 7-0 at the Metrodome. The seven runs marks the largest margin of victory for the Twins in a no-hitter, and Milton was outstanding. He walked two and struck out thirteen on a game that took place on a Saturday morning in Minneapolis. That effort also marks the latest in a season that the Twins have had a no-hitter.
That brings us to Liriano's no-hitter last night against the White Sox. As I said, the six baserunners that Liriano allowed were the most for a Twins' pitcher in a no-hit effort, and the one-run margin of victory is the same slim margin as two other Twins' no-hitters (three if you count the 1-0 effort by Walter Johnson detailed above). The no-hitter couldn't have come at a better time for the Twins, who have struggled all year and had gone into last night's game having lost six in a row before last night's victory.
Congratulations once again to Francisco Liriano and the Minnesota Twins on making baseball history.