Now, of course, we are forced to own up to the truth: there is no substitute in playoff baseball for a guy who gives you that invincible feeling when it's his turn in the rotation. Look no further than every division series:
*Cliff Lee came close to single-handedly wiping out the team with the best record in the American League. He won two games, both in Tampa Bay, including last night's gem in the 5-1 clincher.
*Tim Lincecum had a two-hit shutout with 14 Ks in a 1-0 victory over Atlanta in Game 1 of the NLDS, eventually won in four games by the Giants.
*The Phillies, who boast three true aces and might run away with a World Series title, allowed just four runs in a sweep of the Reds. Roy Halladay started things with a no-hitter in Game 1; Cole Hamels finished things with a shutout in Game 3.
*CC Sabathia didn't dominate in Game 1 vs. the Twins, but he hung in and eventually was the winning pitcher. He also loomed in Game 4, if necessary -- almost telling the Twins "don't even bother" (which, of course, they didn't).
The Twins' only postseason victories during a 2-19 skid that started with Game 2 of the 2002 ALCS have come in games where Johan Santana was the starting pitcher (granted, the bullpen also did an excellent job in both of those games, though Santana didn't allow a run in either case).
Aces aren't easy to find or develop. It takes a certain mentality. It takes a certain amount of stuff. But we do know this: the Twins need one. Badly. As in, more than simply waiting and hoping that Francisco Liriano can be that guy.