One thing that hasn’t happened too often this season for the Pittsburgh Pirates is extended losing streaks. Having a guaranteed stopper in the rotation has been one of many reasons why. Francisco Liriano has undoubtedly been the ace of this staff after spending the beginning of the season on the disabled list. Tonight, he picked up his 12th win which is near the top of the National League and lowered his ERA to almost an even two. Clayton Kershaw is arguably the only pitcher to be having a better season.
While Liriano was busy shutting down the Rockies lineup, Jorge De La Rosa struggled against the Pirates on the other side. The first few innings saw him throw a ton of pitches and if you read Rich’s preview you know that De La Rosa has struggled going deep in games this season. Tonight was no exception. He only gave up two runs, an RBI double to Andrew McCutchen and a solo home run to Jose Tabata, but he threw over 90 pitches in the four innings that he lasted. Speaking of Tabata, he came just a double short of hitting for the cycle in this game. Gaby Sanchez drove in two runs and Josh Harrison successfully executed a squeeze bunt to give the Pirates a 5-0 lead before Liriano left the game. The game did get interesting though. The Shark Tank has not been very effective lately. Tony Watson gave up two runs in just 1/3 of an inning. But Bryan Morris came on and got a big double play to end the threat.
Player of the Game: Francisco Liriano
I’m pretty sure that Liriano wins this TiGO honor just about every time he takes the mound. Once he accumulates enough innings to qualify, he will surely be in the NL Cy Young conversation. What was the best thing about tonight? He didn’t even pitch that well. He issued five walks. He wasn’t extremely efficient. He got into a few big jams. But when it comes to the number that matters, he threw up a zero. For as much of a vocal leader that A.J. Burnett is, Liriano has been just as great at leading by example.
Play of the Game: Bryan Morris
As I mentioned, the Pirate bullpen has hit a bit of a funk that somewhat correlates with the injury to Jason Grilli. However, I don’t believe the issues stem as much from that injury as they do from having a lack of experience in the pen. That being said, Morris got the biggest outs of the game tonight. Tony Watson fell the victim to some poor defense in the top of the 8th inning that eventually saw a run cross the plate to end the shutout. Morris came in and while he did let another run cross the plate by giving up an RBI single to Michael Cuddyer, he did induce Wilin Rosario to bounce into a huge double play on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.
Up Next: Colorado Rockies, Sunday, 1:35pm
Burnett will pitch the rubber match of this series for the Pirates. He is actually having a really quiet season. A lot of people seem to be of the belief that he hasn’t been as good as last year but in reality, he’s on pace to end the season with the best ERA of his career. Plus, he’s coming off of a top notch start against the Cardinals his last time out.
Burnett will be opposed by Juan Nicasio, who like the rest of the Rockies staff, but absolutely annihilated by the Atlanta Braves his last time out. That being said, Nicasio hasn’t been too impressive at all in his entire career.