MINNEAPOLIS – Francisco Liriano was six outs from his second no-hitter of the season, when a long delay during the bottom of the seventh inning derailed his feat.
The Minnesota Twins didn’t mind. They’re just happy to have the dominant Liriano back.
Liriano sat in the dugout for nearly a half-hour before Adrian Beltre led off the eighth with a single, but he allowed only three baserunners Sunday and pitched the Twins past the Texas Rangers, 6-1.
“Everything was working for me,” Liriano said.
Liriano (4-6), who held the Chicago White Sox hitless in a wild effort May 3, was perfect through the sixth against the high-scoring Rangers. He needed 64 pitches to retire the first 18 batters.
“I felt better today. Way better,” Liriano said, comparing this to his no-hitter.
Elvis Andrus was the first Texas player to reach base, on rookie third baseman Luke Hughes’ fielding error with one out in the seventh.
The Twins then scored five times in the bottom half after an injury to Rangers starter Matt Harrison, an inning that took 29 minutes. When the Liriano returned to the mound, he fell behind 3-0 before ex-Mariners third baseman Beltre hit a hard single to left-center field.
Still, the left-hander struck out nine to match a season high. He allowed two hits and no walks.
“We were really worried when he went back out there, but what a performance by him,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
After Beltre’s hit, Liriano struck out Nelson Cruz but gave up a single to Yorvit Torrealba that spoiled the shutout. Liriano drew a loud ovation from the sellout crowd after finishing the inning.
“I got a little bit nervous in the eighth inning,” Liriano said. “I got behind in the count, and I had to throw a fastball.”
The Twins have won nine of their last 11 to move nine games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.