When there is a losing streak around that needs to be stopped, looked no further than Fransisco Liriano. His snub this week from the All-Star game was pathetic, but he just made the coaches, the fans, the system, and Ozzie Guillen look dumb last night. Seven innings, no runs, eight strikeouts, three walks, four hits, and no surprises.
Another game, a lower ERA. He now leads the AL with an amazing 1.83 ERA. By doing so, according to ESPN.com and the Elias Sports Bureau, Liriano becomes only the second rookie in MLB history to enter the All-Star break with 10 plus wins and a sub-2.00 ERA. The other was New York Met rookie Jerry Koosman in 1968, who had a 11-4 record and a 1.94 ERA.
That's some good company. Koosman, who had a long 19-year career, won 222 games, struck out 2556 batters, and was a big-game pitcher for the 1969 Miracle Mets. Liriano probably won't have a career quite like Koosman though since, despite his strikeouts, Koosman wasn't even close to the dominance at any point Liriano is reaching now.
The point being that Liriano is having a pretty incredible and historical season (in that its the lowest ERA for a rookie pitcher entering the break with 10 plus wins), so the snub looks a lot worse. How do you count out greatness for some run-of-the-mill innings-eater like Mark Buerhle? The great thing though is that despite such a ridiculous oversight, we Twins fan gets the pleasure of enjoying his amazing ability on a weekly basis. To me, that's enough to not care that much about what happened. Not when he's this good and this fun to watch.
Other than Liriano, Rincon, and Nathan combining to shut out the Rangers, the Twins offense was mediocre, considering the park and the pitching talent they faced. A Hunter homer, Bartlett two-run double, and a Shannon Stewart RBI single in the ninth platted four runs, plenty for Liriano and the Twins staff.
There were, of course, some frustrating moments. One in particular was watching Luis Castillo get pathetically thrown out by Jerry Hairston Jr. in the fourth after he was given a gift double due to a Hairston mistake in the field and stole third. He was out by a mile and its a clear reminder that, despite his steal, his effort level and play this year has not been close to what we expected. Also, for the first time in a long time, Joe Mauer went 0 for 4 and watched his batting average dive to .383.
The good news is that the last game before the break today will be started by Johan. With a victory last night, it should give him momentum. If we can win today, hopefully that carries over to next weekend.