Talk about night and day.
It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was down right ugly. Either way, Francisco Liriano tossed the seventh no-hitter in Minnesota franchise history Tuesday night against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The 1-0 victory, thanks in part to a fourth-inning solo shot off the bat of Jason Kubel, marked the fifth no-hitter for the Twins and the first of the 2011 baseball season.
Don't beat yourself up too bad. The fact you decided against starting Liriano on your fantasy team Tuesday (if you haven't dropped him yet) may be a good thing after all.
Hanging onto his starting job by the skin of his teeth, Liriano more or less sucked his way through this outing. Of the 123 pitches he threw, just 66 were strikes, with two punch-outs. The one troubling number from his line was six: the amount of batters he walked. How a guy can walk six and still manage a no-no is beyond me. I'm impressed.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to take anything away from his obvious feat, but holy crap was he bad. On the other hand, there is no such thing as an unimpressive no-hitter. If it was an easy task, there would be more than 248 of them thrown in the history of the game. The fact still remains while several balls were scalded around the field, none escaped an out.
So this begs the question no one is comfortable asking after such an accomplishment: does Frankie still belong in the rotation? This victory, the first time Twins fans have enjoyed a no-hitter since Eric Milton dusted the Anaheim Angels in 1999, may indeed have saved his job, at least for now.
After a terrible month of April in which Liriano went 1-4 with a 9.13 ERA, his 4-0 start at this time last season was a distant memory. Regardless of how he struggled through it though, maybe the outcome of Tuesday night's contest combined with how incredible it must feel to toss a no-hitter (and slim his ERA down to 6.61) will give the slumping lefty some much-needed motivation. Maybe the team will follow suit and go from one extreme to the next as well? Having more wins than any one of the 29 other teams in Major League Baseball would be a good place to start.
Now onto the next order of business: for the Twins to get healthy and stop sucking at baseball.
Here are some reactions from around the Twins blogosphere:
Francisco Liriano Throws a No-Hitter! [Puckett's Pond]
The First Step [Twinscentric]
Fabulous Francisco. Totally fabulous. [A Fan's View]
The Legend of LiraNoNo. [Over the Baggy]
Liriano's No-Hitter Out-Edwin Jacksoned Edwin Jackson. [Twinkie Town]
Liriano Tosses No-Hitter in Chicago. [Fanatic Jack]
Although I've had a real nice time studying for finals for the last couple weeks before taking them the last two days, I'm happy to be back. Stick around while Babes Love Baseball interviews Teresa Mauer later on this morning, just in time for Mother's Day.
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This Twins commercial, promoting their upcoming series against the Tampa Bay Rays, has been airing for a couple of days now, but I wanted to share it with those of you who many have missed it, want to watch it again, or simply still don't believe in the miracle of cable television. Whatever the case, enjoy.
Matt Capps will get the job as the Twins closer for now until Joe Nathan figures out what is wrong with himself and starts pitching like the All-Star closer we know and love. And miss a lot.
Nathan, who is 0-1 with an obscene 8.44 ERA over six games so far this season, addressed the ongoing issue to Ron Gardenhire after Saturday's 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay in which he unraveled during one-third of an inning. He had this to say about his recent struggles:
Until I start getting that back, and I know I will at some time, I don’t want to put this team at any risk and cost them ballgames right now. I just thought it was the right thing to do for the ballclub and myself. Give myself a chance to get out there and still pitch on a consistent basis. Obviously that’s what I need to do. Getting away from where every pitch could cost us a game.
Costing the team ballgames is exactly what he's done, blowing the save Thursday and Saturday, with the Rays eventually winning both of those games. He seems pretty uncomfortable out there, and who can blame him with that display of inconsistency. While we all cussed at our televisions or radios this weekend, I'm sure many of the same thoughts were going through our minds:
"@#%&! What in the world is wrong with Joe? Does his elbow just not work right anymore? Is it psychological? Did he attempt his comeback from Tommy John too early?" My opinion is that it's a mixture of the three. However, since he claims his arm feels okay, I'm leaning more towards the head case deal. What are your thoughts on the situation?
Mauer news: After losing 12 pounds to a viral infection, Joe's legs are on the mend and he is expected to return in a couple of weeks once he finishes his rehab program in Minnesota. I'd love to hear your opinion on this too: is Joe a total pansy or just a victim of the flu? Is the Twins organization wearing kids gloves when dealing with him or are they just being smart?
"A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." - Jackie Robinson.
While most of the country associates April 15 as the dreaded "Tax Day" the rest of us know that today's date has much more meaning behind it.
Happy Jackie Robinson Day.
Today is the 64th anniversary of the date when Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball on April 15, 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. This achievement is being recognized once again around the league with ceremonies at many stadiums as each player will don no. 42 to honor his legacy.
As the Twins take the field this evening at the Trop in St. Petersburg, the first 10,000 fans will receive a Jackie Robinson t-shirt to honor his impact on baseball, sports and American Culture.
Along with the links below, I highly recommend checking out these videos of big leaguers' thoughts on the holiday [MLB]
MLB Celebrates Jackie Robinson Day [Fenway West]
Jackie Robinson Day [The Hardball Times]
A Black Man in the Lineup, What a Concept [Today in Baseball]
Dodgers Pay Tribute to Jackie Robinson [Vin Scully is my Homeboy]
Baseball Legend Remembered Across MLB [Huffington Post]
Also, you can follow the conversation on Twitter with the #IAM42 hashtag.
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Congratulations to David and Kathy DeGear and their lovely family from New Richmond, Wis. on winning the Kemps "Biggest Fan'ily" online contest this weekend. After their photo [right] was chosen by Teresa Mauer from the many who entered, they got to hang out with Joe and his mama at the commercial shoot for the All-Star catcher's upcoming ad with the company.
The season-ticket holding DeGears had a sweet mural of Target Field painted on their sons' bedroom wall, which made their photo stand out to the Mauers. Though their eldest son, Shane, has turned to soccer in recent years, middle son Jacob is all signed up for tee-ball this spring.
Kathy said meeting the Mauers was "awesome. They were very down-to-earth and nice. It was really great."
Marea and I also had the pleasure of spending a little time with the Mauers on Monday afternoon. Since you already know all of the baseball-related things there are to know about Joe, we went the non-traditional route. A snippet...
BLB: So, Joe, now that Justin [Morneau]'s a dad, do you get to spend a lot of time with him outside of the ballpark?
Joe: I do. Yeah, he's really fun to watch, he's a great dad. We've had some barbecues down in Spring Training, we've gotten to see Evelyn -
Teresa: She's a real doll.
Joe: Yeah, he's a real proud dad, and he's doing a great job.
In the commercial, which will air on May 2, Joe gets in trouble for not cleaning up after himself, something Teresa later admitted has happened before.
Feel free to check out the rest of the Q & A at Babes Love Baseball, where you can find a behind-the-scenes look at the commercial shoot, as well.
The Twins will resume play Tuesday evening at home for a two-game set against the Kansas City Royals, with Brian Duensing getting the start against left-hander Jeff Francis in game one.
The Twins have placed Tsuyoshi Nishioka on the 15-day disabled list after the second baseman managed to fracture his fibula while landing over Nick Swisher, who successfully broke up the double play. There is currently no timetable for his return, and I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure he'll be out at least a month.
I was under the impression Nishioka was somewhat of a ninja, but ninjas don't break their legs. Apparently he is human after all.
Also, Swisher went to the stadium's X-ray room and apologized to Nishi for plowing into him, even though it was a legitimate slide. Stand up guy.
Luke Hughes has gotten the call from Triple-A to replace Nishioka on the roster, but Gardy will probably give Matt Tolbert the chance in the lineup for the time being. Hughes did lead the team in homers this Spring, so he has that going for him. Which one would you rather see up the middle and at the plate?
Anyway, happy Home Opener! Carl Pavano will face Oakland Athletics lefty Brett Anderson today for a chance to bounce back from a disaster of a start against the Blue Jays during the season opener in which he was pounded for seven runs over four-plus innings. A sad, sad effort.
Fun fact: the Twins won six of their nine meetings against the A's last season.
Chasing Reggie. [Bugs & Cranks]
101-Year-Old Woman Tosses First Pitch, Survives. [Sportress of Blogitude]
Selig Baseball's New Iron Man. [Big League Stew]
Still time to win a Mashin' Taters t-shirt. [Babes Love Baseball]
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