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Francisco Liriano No-Hitter: The 10 Most Unlikely "No-Nos" in MLB History

Doug MeadCorrespondent IDecember 24, 2016

Francisco Liriano No-Hitter: The 10 Most Unlikely "No-Nos" in MLB History

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    On Tuesday night, Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano threw what can only be termed as an improbable no-hitter over the Chicago White Sox.

    Ironically, the man on the mound for the White Sox, Edwin Jackson, threw an improbable no-hitter of his own last season with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

    To give you an idea of just how improbable Liriano’s no-hitter was? After the outstanding performance, his ERA actually dropped to 6.61.

    It was certainly good news for a team who has been absolutely reeling all season long. The Twins, who were largely expected to win the American League Central division, were 9-18 before Tuesday night. They have been playing without the services of their All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, and several stars such as Justin Morneau, Delmon Young and Carl Pavano are off to very poor starts.

    For Liriano, the no-hitter follows an outing in which he couldn’t get out of the fourth inning, giving up seven runs on six hits and four walks in a loss to Tampa Bay.

    However, Liriano is certainly not alone in being an improbable pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the major leagues.

    Here is a list of 10 other pitchers who threw surprise no-hitters when it was least expected.

    For continuing coverage of Major League Baseball, follow Doug on Twitter @Sports_A_Holic.

10. Tom Phoebus: Baltimore Orioles, Apr. 27, 1968

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    In late April 1968, Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Tom Phoebus took the mound against the Boston Red Sox at Memorial Stadium. The Red Sox, coming off their pennant winning season in 1967, were returning most of their regulars that season, and featured a strong lineup that included Carl Yastrzemski, Rico Petrocelli and Reggie Smith.

    Phoebus breezed through his outing, and when the afternoon was over, he had pitched the first and only no-hitter of his career.

    On a pitching staff that included Dave McNally and Jim Hardin, Phoebus was the least likely to throw a no-hitter. Phoebus was out of baseball four years later, finishing his career with a 56-52 record.

9. Bobo Holloman: St. Louis Browns, May 6, 1953

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    In 1953 Bobo Holloman made his major league debut for the St. Louis Browns. At 30 years of age, Holloman was one of the older players to break through to the majors. He pitched in relief in his first game on April 18, and on May 6, Holloman was given his first major league start.

    Holloman became the second pitcher in the history of baseball (Bumpus Jones, 1892) to throw a no-hitter in his very first start.

    Holloman pitched exactly one year in the majors, posting a 3-7 record.

8. Mike Warren: Oakland Athletics, Sept. 29, 1983

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    Mike Warren, a 22-year-old right-hander, broke into the majors with the Oakland Athletics in early June and was mainly used as a reliever until pressed into service as a starter in August.

    Warren showed some promise, and strung together two complete game efforts in late September, including a 10-inning victory.

    On Sept. 29, Warren took the mound for the A’s once again. This time, Warren not only threw a complete game, he threw a no-hitter, walking three and striking out five along the way.

    However, fame was fleeting for Warren. He started only 18 more games in his career and was out of baseball by July, 1985.

7. Bud Smith: St. Louis Cardinals, Sept. 3, 2001

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    Bud Smith was a young left-hander drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998, and made his debut with the Cardinals in June 2001. After a couple of trips back and forth to Triple-A during the season, Smith was called back up to stay in late July, filling in as the team’s fifth starter.

    On Sept. 3, 2001, Smith started a game against the San Diego Padres, going into the game with a 3-2 record and a 4.30 ERA.

    Smith pitched pitched the game of his life, no-hitting the Padres, striking out seven and walking four.

    Smith again started the season with the Cardinals the following season as the fifth starter, but was completely ineffective, and by mid-July, Smith was traded by the Cards as part of the deal that brought Scott Rolen to St. Louis, and Smith never pitched in the majors again.

6. Joe Cowley: Chicago White Sox, Sept. 19, 1986

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    Joe Cowley was a little known pitcher when he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Atlanta Braves in 1976. It took Cowley six years to finally break into the majors, enjoying a quick cup of coffee with the Braves in 1982.

    Cowley started 37 games in two seasons for the New York Yankees before being traded to the Chicago White Sox in December 1985.

    Cowley started 26 games for the White Sox, compiling an unimpressive 10-9 record with a 4.08 ERA. On Sept. 19, 1986, against the California Angels, Cowley threw a no-hitter, despite issuing seven walks during the game.

    Cowley started three more games for the White Sox, and the following season Cowley, after being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, appeared in five games before his release.

    Cowley is the only man in major league history to throw a no-hitter and never win another game in his career.

5. Jose Jimenez: St. Louis Cardinals, June 25, 1999

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Jose Jimenez was a rookie with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1999 after receiving a brief callup the year before.

    Jimenez was definitely having a tough year. In late June, Jimenez was 3-7 with a 6.69 ERA when he took the mound against the Arizona Diamondbacks and Randy Johnson.

    Jimenez threw a no-hitter against Johnson and the D-Backs, becoming one of only 20 rookies to throw a no-hitter.

    Ten days later, Jimenez beat Johnson again, with a complete game two-hit shutout.

    Unfortunately, that was pretty much the highlight of Jimenez’ career. He finished his career in 2004 with a record of 24-44 and a 4.92 ERA.

4. Juan Nieves: Milwaukee Brewers, April 15, 1987

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    On April 15, 1987, 22-year-old Juan Nieves, pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers, threw a most improbable no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox.

    Nieves became the second-youngest player ever to throw a no-hitter. The following season, Nieves blew out his arm in midseason and never pitched another game in the majors.

    Ironically, Nieves is now the bullpen coach for the White Sox, the very team that he threw his no-hitter against.

3. Jim Abbott: New York Yankees, Sept. 4, 1993

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    In 1988, the world took notice of a young man playing baseball in the Olympics for the United States. His name was Jim Abbott, and he was born without a right hand. Despite his disability, Abbott excelled and led his team to a gold medal.

    Abbott was then drafted by the California Angels in 1988 and made his major league debut the following season at the age of 21.

    Four years later, pitching for the New York Yankees, Abbott threw a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians.

    Abbott was an incredible example of a man who overcame a tremendous obstacle in order to fulfill his dream, making this no-hitter not only improbable, but special indeed.

2. Dock Ellis: Pittsburgh Pirates, June 12, 1970

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    Dock Ellis was actually a pretty decent pitcher, compiling a record of 138-119 over 12 seasons with a 3.46 ERA.

    On June 12, 1970, Ellis no-hit the San Diego Padres. What made the no-hitter improbable is the fact that Ellis later admitted that he was high on LSD on the night he pitched the no-hitter.

1. Edwin Jackson: Arizona Diamondbacks, June 25, 2010

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Edwin Jackson was a highly touted right-handed pitcher when he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2001. However, Jackson had control issues, and the Dodgers traded him to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    Jackson continued suffering from control problems, and was shipped off to Detroit by the Rays. After one year in Detroit, Jackson found himself on the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010.

    On June 25, Jackson took the mound in an interleague game against his former team, Tampa Bay. Jackson no-hit the Rays that night, but not without a whole lot of work.

    Jackson threw 149 pitches and walked eight along the way, pitching out of trouble on occasion and surviving for a 1-0 victory.

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