First no-no of 2011 in the books

Jacob Pollack

Contributing Sports Writer

Every pitcher has a vision when he takes the mound. A complete game, a shutout. A zero in the hit column when the ninth inning reaches its end, his club storming the mound. Fists pumped into the air—the universal sign of accomplishment, success, the muted technique of saying, “I did it,” and maybe a pie in his face. For Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins, the dream of a no-hitter became a reality on the 3rd of May, 2011. One month into the season of Major League Baseball, and a no-hitter is upon us.

The chill of the nighttime air in Chicago did not trouble Liriano. Nor did the intimidating presences of former All-Stars Carlos Quentin, Paul Konerko, and Alex Rios in the batter’s box. Liriano’s four losses and earned run average of 9.13 did not destroy his confidence.

“When I go out there, I try to think positive. I don’t want to think about, ‘They’re going to put me in the bullpen.’ I just try to do my best,” Liriano said after the 1-0 win over the White Sox.

And his best was what Liriano gave. Through Liriano’s nine innings of work, his first complete game of his ninety-five career starts, two batters went down on strikes, though six successfully reached on bases via the walk. Some may doubt the legitimacy of Liriano’s no-hitter due to the abnormal amount of walks he had surrendered, but a no-hitter is a no-hitter.

With a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth inning, Francisco Liriano had seemingly run out of gas. 117 pitches had already been thrown, and with Adam Dunn, a 6-foot-6 slugger at the plate, Liriano was about to issue his seventh walk of the game. With a full count on the scoreboard, Dunn speared a line drive toward the hole in between third base and shortstop. Shortstop Matt Tolbert would make the winning grab, saving the no-hitter.

“I thought it was a base hit,” Liriano recalled. “When I saw him catch it, I was so excited.”

Calling no-hitters an excitement is an understatement. It is an achievement, a record, and a recollection of history. Though 270 Major League pitchers have tossed no hitters, it is their individual accomplishment that moves baseball fans to be excited for the love of the game. It’s just not exciting, it’s not just moving. It’s Major League Baseball, and we are only one month underway.

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