Francisco Liriano pitched the day after a loss. That’s really all you need to know. You can guess how the game went just by knowing that one fact. I have my issues with Neal Huntington but I don’t remember the last time two free agent acquisitions made impacts as big as Liriano and Russell Martin have this year. Eight innings, two hits, six strikeouts. Oh…and no runs. That was Liriano’s line in his 15th win. He is the first Pirate since 1946 since get the decision in his first 21 starts.
The offense actually played it’s part tonight as well. The fact that Shelby Miller was pitching probably aided that. While Miller is having an outstanding rookie season, he has not fared well against the Pirates, especially Garrett Jones. Jones had a couple of days off after struggling mightily. Seeing him back in the lineup didn’t exactly enthuse me.
"YAY! Garrett Jones back in the lineup" – no one. Ever. Not even Garrett Jones
And as per usual, I say something negative about a player and they immediately make me look like a jackass. Jones drove in four runs and fell a triple short of the cycle. Martin drove in the other Pirate run as the second of back to back home runs in the fourth inning.
Player of the Game: Garrett Jones
Credit where it is due. I have not been a big fan of Jones over his tenure in Pittsburgh. Despite the good year last season, I grew sour on him back in 2011 and that hasn’t really changed. But he was the man tonight. He got the Pirates on the board in the first inning with a two run double. He hit the first of back to back home runs in the fourth inning. And he drove in Marlon Byrd with a single in the fifth inning. Hopefully this is the beginning of a hot streak and not just him dominating a pitcher he’s had success against. Jones in 7-for-10 in his career against Miller.
Play of the Game: Garrett Jones and Russell Martin
Whether the offense is an issue of underachieving or a lack of talent has been a debatable issue for most of the season. Two guys who have not carried their weight recently have been Jones and Martin. In Martin’s case, he was still being effective with his defense and I’m not sure the offense was entirely his fault either because I believe he was out of position in the lineup. Jones on the other hand had no excuses. Regardless, they busted out of their funk together tonight, hitting back to back bombs in the fourth inning. The Pirates are full of streaky hitters. If their power hitters start to get on a collective hot streak, watch out. But it’s just one game so who knows if that’s actually what’s happening.
Up Next: St. Louis Cardinals, Saturday, 7:05pm
It’s the latest “most important series in PNC Park history.” And the middle game may be the most important of that series. It’s a battle for first place with both teams currently tied at the top of the division. A.J. Burnett will be on the hill for the Pirates. Burnett is coming off of a couple solid starts out west. This will be his fourth time facing the Cardinals. He’s 2-0 in those three starts. The last one was a no decision in which he did not pitch very well.
Lance Lynn will be pitching for the Cardinals. He just pisses me off. This will be his fifth start against the Pirates. He’s 2-0 in the previous four starts with two no decisions.