Liriano settles down for solid game vs. Braves
PITTSBURGH -- Pirates left-hander Francisco Liriano had just walked the bases loaded, then walked the Braves' No. 8 hitter, Ryan Lavarnway. It was only the second inning, but Liriano looked like he might be losing control of the game.
Then out to the mound came pitching coach Ray Searage, reminding Liriano to calm down even with the bases loaded. Two pitches later, a harmless pop out in foul ground. Four pitches after that, a swinging strikeout.
Just like that, Liriano was out of the inning and on his way to a solid seven-inning performance in a game the Pirates went on to win, 3-2, in 10 innings.
Liriano's final line was impressive enough, especially considering the rut the rotation's been in lately, but it was more of an accomplishment with the way he battled his mechanics all night.
"I felt like I was rushing some pitches," Liriano said. "So I was trying to calm down and not try to do too much."
Those issues were particularly noticeable with runners on base, especially in that second inning. He rushed through his delivery, couldn't find a consistent release point and lost command of the strike zone.
Yet he wound up lasting seven innings, holding Atlanta to two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out three.
The well-timed meeting with Searage played a big role in his recovery. Liriano didn't give up another run until there were two outs in the sixth, when Juan Uribe lifted a low changeup over the center-field fence.
"Ray's good with reminders, and Frank's a pro. I think he probably feels things himself and knows where he needs to go back to a Plan B to get things in synch again or recalibrated," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "From that point on, until the Uribe swing, he was in a good place. ... It was a complete flip for him as far as the command goes."
Pitching without his usual strikeout stuff, Liriano relied on his defense to turn ground balls into outs. And the infield delivered, turning three double plays in the first four innings. Josh Harrison stood out at third base as well, cleaning up seemingly every ball hit in his direction.
"Just trying to throw the ball over the plate, and the guys behind me made some plays behind me like they always do," Liriano said. "A couple ground balls, a couple double plays -- that changed the whole game for me.
"It was a battle for me out there, mechanics-wise. My mechanics were a little off. I just battled through it."