Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Stopper Strikes Again; Bucs Take 3-1 Win

Another losing streak? Those pesky Cards breathing down your neck? Fans lighting candles to ward off Collapse 3.0? Hey, who ya gonna call? Slump-buster Francisco Liriano. In his last four starts following a Pirates loss, Francisco has allowed just two runs over 30 innings and won all four games.
The Cisco Kid went seven scoreless innings, giving up four hits, two walks, and striking out 13 Padres with a nasty combo of sliders and change ups, tossing 104 pitches. Liriano gave up one fly ball out. He was challenged twice, in the fourth and fifth, both times with two outs, and got out of the jams routinely with a groundout and K. His fastball control this season has been setting up his breaking pitches almost unfairly, and that's the difference - sit on his fastball and you'll be sitting down. He punched out at least one Friar in every inning, and struck out the side twice, whiffing every Padre starter.

Pedro gave him all the support he needed, running out a soft liner that skipped past hard-charging right fielder Chris Denorfia (it was ruled a single and three-base error), scoring both him and Cutch in the third to give the Bucs a 2-0 edge. He bombed a real homer to right off an Andrew Cashner curve in the sixth. It was his NL-leading 31st. The Bucs didn't exactly light up Cashner and company; they had five hits, with two each by McCutchen and Alvarez.

Justin Wilson struck out two in a perfect eighth inning, and Mark the Shark recorded his eighth save of Frankie's 14th win. Melancon allowed a run in the ninth on a two-out double and faced the tying run, but closed it out aptly enough with a strikeout.

The bats were asleep again, and that's worrisome. But it doesn't take much offense to back Liriano.

AJ Burnett takes on Tyler Ross tonight.

  • The last Pirate pitcher to strike out at least 12 in a game was Kip Wells, who struck out 12 Phillies in 2005. The last game with more whiffs was tossed by Ollie Perez, who K'ed 14 Astros in 2004. Liriano's 13 K weren't his career high; he whiffed 15 with the Twins against the Athletics last year.
  • Liriano also tied his career high in victories at 14, which he won in 2010.
  • Wilson and Melancon each had two K to go with Liriano's 13 punch outs. The 17 strikeouts tied a franchise high for a nine-inning game. 
  • Odd factoid: The Cisco Kid is the first Pirate to get a decision in each of his first 19 starts since Vernon Law in 1965. Odd factoid two: Law won the Comeback Player of the Year Award that year, as many expect Liriano to do this year.
  • Starling Marte didn't play due to a right hand contusion.
  • It took the Pirates awhile to announce what was a pretty obvious move, as they optioned pitcher Kris Johnson to Indy to make space for Ryan Reid. This is Reid's third call up; he's pitched in seven games to a 1.69 ERA.
  • Cutch stayed red hot against a team he traditionally has problems hitting. Last night was his sixth multi-hit game in the last eight he's played.

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