Francisco Liriano doesn’t need any consistency of role to concentrate and get the job done, apparently. After being told he would no longer start, then told that he would be, then informed that he would be back in the bullpen again, Liriano was called upon to make the Saturday afternoon start against the Twins. He did so smoothly by taking a no hitter into the 7th inning and ultimately getting a win and protecting the slight division lead for another day.
White Sox (78-66): 5
Twins (60-86): 3
Run scoring groundouts are the new solo HR. It’s funny that when a team scores on homeruns it’s appreciated but with a cautionary tale about relying too much on the long ball. When a run scores on a groundout, it’s manufactured, a productive out, and the mark of a team doing what it needs to do to win. Call me crazy, but I’d prefer the one that doesn’t use an out. In any event, like last night, today’s first run came by groundout, this one by Paul Konerko, which scored Kevin Youkilis. Youkilis reached via walk and was moved over to third by the fresh oblique’d Adam Dunn.
Samuel Deduno walked more than a batter an inning. The White Sox didn’t jump all over him, but they did manage to turn some of those free passes into runs. After the Youkilis score in the 1st, Paul Konerko did manage to put a charge into one in the 3rd following an Adam Dunn walk. In the 4th, Dayan Viciedo walked (yep) and moved into second on a wild pitch. Gordon Beckham lined a base hit up the middle to plate him and that would be the third White Sox walk to score.
Francisco Liriano didn’t seem too worried about the support. He walked Josh Willingham with 2 outs in the 1st, and followed by retiring the next 13 Twins batters he saw. In the 6th Drew Butera got himself a four pitch walk, ending the streak. In the 7th, Liriano recorded a pair of outs before nicking Justin Morneau with an inside pitch, putting him on for Trevor Plouffe. Then the no-hitter was over, as was the shutout. Plouffe took it deep to left and cut the White Sox lead in half. Liriano got out of the inning and had to feel good despite the lack of no-hitter in his possession. 7 innings pitched, just the 1 hit and 2 runs, striking out 9. Most importantly he only walked 2, which is what enables him to keep the hit count down, or nearly non-existent in this case. Particularly after being juggled between a bullpen and starter role over the last week, this is a terribly impressive outing for Liriano.
Picking up for Liriano was Jesse Crain, who handled the 8th without issue. In comes Addison Reed: Closer, for the 9th. Reed wasn’t particularly interested in any kind of closing, loading the bases via 2 walks and a hit and exiting without retiring a single batter. A seemingly safe 3 run lead was suddenly under attack making way for Matt Thornton to come into the bases loaded no outs situation and get Justin Morneau to hit into a double play. A run scored, but it took the the winning run out of the equation. Trevor Plouffe, he of the breaking up a no-hitter fame, grounded out to Gordo and Matt Thornton turns into a hero for the day. And if you’ve ever listened to 670 The Score, you know, the Thornton love will only last a single day.
Plus: We’ve been down this road before, but seeing Liriano be so impressive, it bodes well for the tail end of a playoff rotation. Now just figuring out what has to be done to keep him consistent…
Minus: Chances squandered. When Deduno was putting runners on without a care in the world, the White Sox could have been putting crooked numbers on the board. In the 8th another pair got stranded, but we may be over to overlook that one as Ben Revere made a catch that’s in the running for best of the year.
Player of the Game:
Matt Thornton – .314 WPA