Francisco Liriano dug up another gem for his 12th win of the season. (Photo Credit: David Hague)
When the Pirates need to stop a losing streak, they send out their stopper.
Francisco Liriano has become the stopper. He and the Pirates are now 12-4 in his starts after beating the Colorado Rockies 5-2 on Saturday night, and by doing so stopped a two-game losing streak from turning into a losing skid.
Winter’s best free agent signing pitched seven shutout innings and allowed only two Rockies hits, and Liriano continues to build himself back to his All-Star form and construct a case for Cy Young Award contention.
Liriano is not yet eligible for the ERA title, but he will eventually if he pitches 162+ innings this year and will be there by August’s end if he continues to average seven innings per start. If he were, this is where he would rank in NL for rate stats:
2.02 earned run average (2nd)
2.72 fielding independent pitching (4th)
9.3 strikeouts per nine innings (7th)
Clayton Kershaw is the National League’s Cy Young winner, but Liriano continues to plug away on an incredible comeback season. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said the biggest change the starter has made is a change in attitude with men on:
“Where he does get a runner on base, it’s a completely different pitcher on the mound. He used to try to make them disappear by striking everybody out, by overpowering people. Now he’s calmed himself down. It’s about one pitch to get a double play. It’s about staying focused, rhythm and tempo for the defense.”
Liriano certainly received offensive assistance as the Pirates got 11 hits and scored one run apiece in innings 3 through 7.
3rd Inning: Starling Marte leads off by hitting a line-drive single, steals second, then is driven in by Andrew McCutchen’s RBI double off the top of the right-field wall
4th Inning: Jose Tabata rips a full-count fastball from Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa for a home run to right-center, his third of the season and first since May 11.
5th Inning: Marte draws a leadoff walk, then Jordy Mercer lines a single to chase De La Rosa. Two batters later, reliever Adam Ottavino gives up a chopping RBI single to Gaby Sanchez.
6th Inning: Tabata leads off by lacing a triple to left-center and scores on Josh Harrison’s suicide squeeze bunt.
7th Inning: McCutchen hits a two-out single to left, steals second then scores on another Gaby Sanchez RBI single off Ottavino.
More to come from PNC Park.