As if the performances of Carlos Gomez, David Ortiz, Joe Nathan, Jesse Crain, JJ Hardy, Torii Hunter, and Michael Cuddyer this season weren't enough, now Twins fans have yet another former Twin to watch in amazement.
Those seven mentioned above are all stars. Another man that would be an All-Star had there not been an unfortunate winter mishap that sidelined him the first month and a half of the year was a teammate of a few of those names, former Twin Francisco Liriano.
His stats are outrageous and he's been one of the key cogs in Pittsburgh, that's right, the Pittsburgh Pirates, heading in to the last weekend before the All-Star break as perhaps the best team in baseball.
Last night was just a microcasm of the Pirates and Liriano's season as a whole. He pitched seven scoreless innings against a team Pittsburgh had never beaten, the Oakland A's, an astounding 0-11 in interleague play since it's inception in 1997. Pittsburgh won 5-0.
Since returning from injury Liriano is 9-3 with a 2.00 ERA, which would be good for second in the majors if Liriano had enough starts to qualify for the ERA title, and has given up more than two runs only twice in 12 starts.
He's given up just four runs in his last four starts combined, winning all of those decisions, and consistency has been the name of his game all year, having posted a sub-2.5 ERA every month to date.
He's having a first half much like his 2006 with the Twins, in which he went 10-1 with a 1.83 ERA and was named to the All-Star Game. Liriano led the majors in ERA before going on the disabled list in early August. That cost him his chance at AL Rookie of the Year as well as the AL Cy Young. He ended the season 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA, but his trip to the disabled list eventually ended in offseason Tommy John surgery.
Liriano is hoping his early season DL stint this year doesn't cost him a shot at late season accolades, and should he stay healthy, the Pirates look awfully dangerous.
Plays like this make us miss him.