Okay. It's a few hours later. The shock and the awe have worn off, just a little. The adrenaline's finished its raucous journey and is safely tucked away until next time. It's a few hours later, and we can begin to ask ourselves ... What does Francisco Liriano's no-hitter mean?
I don't mean what does it mean, metaphysically. I flunked Metaphysics in college. Was caught looking into the mind of the student next to me. I mean what does it mean for Liriano, and for the Twins.
There was a time, some years ago, when Francisco Liriano looked like maybe the best pitcher in this metaphysical plane. This would have been five years ago, thereabouts -- metaphysically, of course, time has no real meaning -- and Liriano went 11-3 with a 1.65 ERA over 14 starts. He also struck out 105 batters in 93 innings.
Then he got hurt. Physically.
The Francisco Liriano who utterly blew away the American League is gone. Physically, because his body just isn't what it was. Metaphysically, because he never actually existed in the first place (hey, I said I flunked; I did attend class, if irregularly).
In 2010, though, we saw a new Francisco Liriano. He wasn't quite the best pitcher in this plane, but he wasn't far off, either. And again, it was the strikeouts that set him apart: 9.4 per nine innings, the second-best figure in the league.
Well, not just the strikeouts. Liriano allowed only nine home runs in 192 innings, and that ratio was the best among American League starting pitchers. In 2010, Liriano did two things exceptionally well, which made him great.
In 2011, Liriano had done nothing exceptionally well except allow runs. Lots and lots of runs. He'd given up four home runs in 24 innings, and struck out only seven batters per nine innings (not a bad figure, but not a good figure for him, especially considering that he had also walked seven batters per nine innings).
For Francisco Liriano to be a great pitcher, he has to limit his walks and rack up gobs of strikeouts.
In his no-hitter, he (obviously) didn't give up any home runs. That's a good sign.
In his no-hitter, he walked six White Sox and struck out two.
What does it all mean? Look into the mind of the kid sitting next to you. He knows.