By Brad Thompson-
CHICAGO (WSCR) It can’t get any worse for the White Sox. This has to be the bottom of the seemingly endless downward spiral for the team.
On a chilly Tuesday night in Chicago, as most know by now, the White Sox were no-hit by Francisco Liriano and the Minnesota Twins. Chicago has now lost 16 of the last 20 games. Less than a month ago, on April 12, the Sox were 7-4. Now the Sox are 11-20 and sport the lowest winning percentage in the league. Unpredictably, they are already 10.5 games behind the surprising Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.
The Sox have had all kinds of issues to start the season. Last week manager Ozzie Guillen served a two-game suspension for remarks about an umpire he made on Twitter. The Sox were no better without him; they lost both games. Gavin Floyd (3-2) and Chris Sale (2-0) are the only pitchers on staff with a winning record. John Danks is 0-4. When they do get solid pitching the bats are dead and vice versa. The Sox rank 24th in the majors in batting average (.236).
Considering the unlikelihood of Tuesday night’s no-hitter, it seems like things can only get better for the Sox, because it’s hard to believe things can get much worse.
Hats off to Liriano; he accomplished something that has only happened 247 other times in Major League Baseball history. He silenced the already quiet Sox bats with some erratic pitching, and the Twins played well defensively.
The details of this historic night are what make it so troubling for the Sox. Liriano was 1-4, with a 9.13 ERA entering the game. He was on the verge of being removed from the starting rotation and being sent to the bullpen. After the game he said he was thinking positive before the start, even though he knew moving to the bullpen was a possibility. “I don’t want to think about, ‘They’re going to put me in the bullpen,’” Liriano said. “I just try to do my best.”
In his 95 career big league starts Liriano has never even thrown a complete game. By his own admission, he was tiring in the late innings.
“To be honest, I was running out of gas,” Liriano said. “I just thank my teammates that they made some great plays behind me tonight.”
His 9.13 ERA was the second highest ERA of a pitcher to throw a no-hitter since MLB started recording ERAs in 1913. Liriano threw 123 total pitches, 66 of them for strikes. He faced 30 batters and threw first-pitch balls to 19 of them. Liriano struck out only two hitters, the fewest strikeouts in a no-hitter since 1980.
All the numbers suggest that not only was Liriano terrific, but that the Sox were almost as responsible for this as he was.
The only positive that might come out of this is that it gives hope to Sox pitchers that they too might only be a start away from throwing the next no-hitter. As Chicago continues to spiral downward in the AL Central, it can’t get much worse than Tuesday night at the Cell.
If there is any good news for Chicago, it’s that they are looking up at Cleveland and Kansas City in the division. No one expected the Indians or the Royals to be there, so if either team comes back down to Earth it might open the door for the Sox. For the time being though, getting out of the Central cellar would be a good start.