Throwing a no-hitter was just one of many comebacks for Francisco Liriano
To call Francisco Liriano's career a roller coaster would be a pretty massive understatement. He burst onto the scene as one of the most electric rookies in baseball history, only to quickly need Tommy John surgery that cost him nearly two seasons. He's finished with an ERA below 3.50 four times and finished with an ERA above 5.00 four times. He's the only player to ever win the Comeback Player of the Year Award twice -- once in each league.
But if you'd like the perfect encapsulation of the Francisco Liriano Experience, look no further than May 3, 2011. Despite having finished ninth in AL Cy Young Award voting the year prior, Liriano struggled early that year, carrying a 9.13 ERA into a start against the White Sox. So, naturally, he went out and threw a no-hitter.
And because this is Liriano we're talking about, even his no-hitter was all over the place. The lefty walked six batters, including two in the fourth -- but every time he started to waver, he bailed himself out:
That was the last of three twin killings that Liriano induced on the night, but it was far from the only time Liriano got his defense involved. This was a no-hitter, after all, and no no-hitter would survive without that Great Defensive Play to preserve it. Danny Valencia, come on down:
It wasn't the most overwhelming no-hitter in baseball history. It certainly wasn't the prettiest. But after 122 pitches, six walks, just two strikeouts and 25 balls put in play, Liriano finished the tight-rope walk with a lineout to short:
Liriano struggled for much of the rest of the 2011 season, finishing with a 5.09 ERA for the last-place Twins. He was solid for a few years with the Pirates but then seemingly bottomed out again, getting dealt by Pittsburgh and shelled in a brief stint with the Blue Jays before finishing last season in Houston as a seldom-used reliever.
Of course, if there's one thing you should know by now, it's that Liriano is always capable of pulling a rabbit out of a hat. As of this writing, He's currently 3-1 with a 3.39 ERA for the Tigers, and Comeback Player of the Year Award number three doesn't look so far-fetched.