CHICAGO -- Francisco Liriano's first professional complete game, which also happened to be his first career no-hitter, might have gotten a little help from the men in blue on Tuesday at U.S. Cellular Field.
With pinch-runner Brent Lillibridge on first and one out in the eighth for the White Sox, Gordon Beckham swung at the first pitch from Liriano and hit a one-hopper to third baseman Danny Valencia. The ball was handled cleanly by Valencia, who made a perfect throw to second baseman Alexi Casilla for the force.
Casilla took a little extra time to make sure his throw was on target to first baseman Justin Morneau, but in the process, Casilla's throw pulled Morneau off the bag and toward Beckham. Morneau took a swipe at Beckham and looked as if he missed him, but first-base umpire Paul Emmel called Beckham out to end the inning.
Replays showed Morneau missed the tag on Beckham's shoulder. Liriano finished the 1-0 victory at 123 pitches, and who knows how many more pitches he would have thrown if Beckham was ruled safe.
"He called him out, and we'll take it," Morneau said. "Those plays are close. You try to tag him and you hope that you get him and sometimes you do and sometimes you don't. You try to make your reaction like you got him."
"That was a huge play," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Beckham argued briefly with Emmel, but quickly gave up the fight. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen came out of the dugout and went as far as the third-base line before turning around and walking back.
After Liriano completed the no-hitter, Beckham didn't rush to watch the replay. But he knows what he felt and respectfully disagreed with Emmel.
"I got that being wrong," said Beckham of the call. "I haven't looked at it, but I didn't feel him tagging me on the shoulder. That's the only reason I was upset. I didn't argue long. What's the point?
"It is what it is. I was upset, because that extends the inning and maybe gives someone else a shot."
Give Liriano credit for his wildly masterful performance, featuring six walks. Give the Twins' defense high marks for support behind Liriano. And give Morneau Major League Baseball's version of the Oscar for selling his performance on the back end of the double play to end the eighth.
"You try to sell it," Morneau said. "You try to get outs for your pitchers whenever you can."
"Mornie made a great play at first base," said Gardenhire, before pausing with a bit of a faraway look. "Made a great catch I thought."