Defense comes up big to back up Liriano's gem

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 4, 2011 - 8:59 AM

Third baseman Danny Valencia took a hit away in the seventh inning; a gift out helped in the eighth, too.

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Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano, right, celebrates with catcher Drew Butera, left and third baseman Danny Valencia, his no hitter and 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox after a baseball game Tuesday, May 3, 2011 in Chicago.

Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast, Associated Press - Ap

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CHICAGO - Most no-hitters include at least one memorable defensive play.

Francisco Liriano's had several.

The Twins were clinging to a 1-0 lead over the White Sox on Tuesday night with two outs in the seventh inning.

Normally, teams guard the lines in that situation, trying to prevent a double. But the Twins had third baseman Danny Valencia stationed a few feet off the line.

Manager Ron Gardenhire said the reason is that Valencia is much better going to his backhand side than his forehand side.

Sure enough, Carlos Quentin hit a chopper down the line. The ball took a bad hop, but Valencia -- whose defense has been a concern for the Twins this season -- reached up about letter-high to grab it. He quickly turned and fired across the infield for the out.

The hardest part of that play is the throw, Valencia said, "because you're off-balance catching it, and to throw from that far across the field is pretty tough."

The next big moment came after Liriano walked Ramon Castro with one out in the eighth inning. At that point, Liriano had thrown 100 pitches, and he still needed five more outs.

But Gordon Beckham grounded the next pitch to Valencia, who started a controversial 5-4-3 inning-ending double play. The relay throw from second baseman Alexi Casilla pulled Justin Morneau off first base, but umpire Paul Emmel ruled that Morneau tagged Beckham.

Replays clearly showed Morneau missed.

"I haven't looked at the replay, but I didn't feel him tagging me on the shoulder," Beckham said. "That's the only reason I was upset. I didn't argue long. What's the point?"

Morneau acted like he got the out, but when asked later if he tagged Beckham, he just shrugged.

"I don't know if [Emmel] is going to be too happy with me once he looks at it," Morneau said. "It's part of the game. You try to sell it. You try to get outs for your pitchers whenever you can."

Morneau made one final great play to preserve the no-hitter. Brent Morel led off the ninth inning with a slow grounder to shortstop Matt Tolbert. Tolbert's off-balance throw to first was in the dirt, but Morneau scooped out the throw; the play might have been called an infield hit if he hadn't.

The Twins were determined to help make this a special night for Liriano.

"Big for all of us, for our whole team," said center fielder Denard Span, who had his own nice running catch to snare Quentin's drive, ending a White Sox threat in the fourth inning. "I think he is our ace. He has great stuff, and I think it's just a good sign for us to come, if he can get on track."

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Final(10)2345678910RHE
Chicago WSox «3000000036102
Minnesota100000000390
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:D.Webb(6-4) L:L.Oliveros(0-1) S:J.Petricka (11)
HR: CWS- T.Flowers 2 (12), D.Viciedo (18) MIN- K.Vargas (5)

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Cincinnati - LP: M. Latos 4 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 5
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 9 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Greene 4
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 4 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Allen 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 8 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Penny 6
Philadelphia - WP: K. Kendrick 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 0
Toronto - WP: R. Dickey 8 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 2
Milwaukee - LP: Y. Gallardo 1 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Arrieta 7
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: B. Peacock 8
Chicago WSox - WP: D. Webb 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: L. Oliveros 3
Texas - LP: M. Kirkman 1 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 2
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Locke 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 6
San Francisco - WP: G. Kontos 12 FINAL
Colorado - LP: M. Belisle 7
Seattle - WP: J. Paxton 6 FINAL
Oakland - LP: S. Gray 5
Washington - LP: D. Fister 1 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4
Arizona - LP: B. Ziegler 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: K. Quackenbush 2
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
Buffalo 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Minnesota 9/7/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
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Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
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NY Jets
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Houston
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Kansas City
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Miami
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Tampa Bay
San Francisco 9/7/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Indianapolis 9/7/14 7:30 PM
Denver
NY Giants 9/8/14 6:10 PM
Detroit
San Diego 9/8/14 9:20 PM
Arizona
Miami-Florida 13 FINAL
(25) Louisville 31
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
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(7) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(19) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
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Penn State
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(18) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(23) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
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Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(2) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Washington
(14) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(13) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(15) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(7) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(17) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
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(5) Auburn
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(21) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(15) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(12) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(16) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(9) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(21) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(8) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Toronto 12 FINAL
Hamilton 13
Edmonton 13 FINAL
Calgary 28
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/7/14 12:00 PM
Montreal
Saskatchewan 9/7/14 3:00 PM
Winnipeg
Minnesota 78 FINAL
Phoenix 96
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