Time to get back on the baseball beat. So much for starting the baseball season with a whimper...much maligned "ace" of the Twins, Francisco Liriano, pitched the first no-hitter of the 2011 baseball season yesterday for the Twins. A perennial contender for the AL Central title, the poor Twins really needed a shot in the arm, as it is the worst start to a season that they have had in a many years. They lost all-world catcher Joe Mauer about a month ago and no one really knows when he is going to get back. The other super slugger for the Twins, Justin Morneau, still seems to be shaking off the effects of a bad concussion that sidelined him for much of last season. Then there is Liriano, who was 1-4 with a bloated ERA coming into last night. While it wasn't a thing of ultimate beauty (he issued six walks), nobody is going to complain, and maybe this is the happening they need to get them on a positive roll.
The Red Sox have come back some in the past couple of weeks, but are still under the .500 mark, which has many of their fans concerned. The good news is that Josh Beckett has shown flashes of his former self, which was brilliant. Diasuke Matsuzaka, whom I believe the Sox were about ready to part ways with, has had a couple of good starts as well. Couple these things with Carl Crawford coming out of a season long slump, and he and fellow-newcomer, Adrian Gonazalez, just might lead the Sox back to the top of the AL East in short order. They will have to deal with the resurgent Rays and ever-present Yankees. Speaking of which, the Yanks just continue to work their starting pitching staff magic with smoke and mirrors. Without 19 game winner, Phil Hughes, the Yankees looked like they were going to be in trouble with only C.C. Sabathia and a bunch of other question marks for starters a couple of weeks into the season. Yet, A.J. Burnett has bounced back and is pitching much better this year after a poor 2010. Bartolo Colon has come out of nowhere and has pitched like his old Cy Young self from several years ago. So, for now, the pitching seems to be holding up and their usual vicious hitting is going to keep them in the race to the end.
The defending champion Texas Rangers have been hanging in (barely) atop the A.L. West. There is no doubt that the loss of closer Neftali Feliz for a couple of weeks has hurt them. They have given up leads and/or lost on a few occasions recently, so Feliz can't get back quick enough. This is also troubled by the fact that one of their key bullpen set-up men, Darren O'Day, was likely lost for the year. The Rangers will be getting some pitchers back from the DL in the next few days to go along with their potent hitters, so it should help everyone...now, if only Josh Hamilton would get back soon! The Angels' starting pitching...particularly Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, has brought them even with the Rangers for the division lead. And if the A's could ever get some hitting to go along with their excellent starting staff, they are going to be in the mix as well. Even the lowly Mariners have been playing much better of late...hitting and pitching like they did a decade ago. So, hang on for the ride...it is going to be exciting. We'll consider the N.L. soon.