Liberatore twirls first scoreless outing of season

July 22nd, 2021

This was more like it.

Following a pair of lackluster starts,  looked every bit of the 2018 No. 16 overall Draft pick on Wednesday. The left-hander turned in his best outing of the season -- striking out nine over six scoreless frames while scattering four hits without issuing a walk to pace Triple-A Memphis' 1-0 victory over Louisville in eight innings in Game 1 of a twin bill at Louisville Slugger Field.

It was the first scoreless outing of the year for the top Cardinals prospect, and his nine punchouts tied a season-high mark that was achieved on June 24 at Toledo. It's also the second time this season that Liberatore did not yield a walk and the fifth time in his professional career. Additionally, he did not allow an extra-base hit to the Bats.

The 21-year-old retired the first four batters he faced before yielding a single to Max Schrock in the second inning on a 1-1 pitch. Still, MLB Pipeline's No. 27 overall prospect recovered to whiff the side in the frame. Liberatore allowed a pair of base hits in the third, but again recovered by striking out the side to escape the inning unscathed.

After retiring the side in order in the fourth on 10 pitches, Liberatore's final blemish on the evening was a one-out single from Michael De Leon in the fifth. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound hurler finished his night by sitting down the final five batters he faced. Liberatore was pinch-hit for in the seventh by Clint Coulter after tossing 93 pitches -- 64 were strikes.

It was a solid bounceback effort for the Arizona native after yielding 13 runs (11 earned) on 20 hits and four walks over his last two starts (10 2/3 innings). The effort also marked Liberatore's first scoreless outing since June 15, 2019, with Class A Bowling Green. It's worth noting there was no 2020 Minor League season due to the coronavirus pandemic. Liberatore was acquired by the Cardinals in a trade with the Rays on January 9, 2020.

Designated runner Evan Mendoza scored the Redbirds' winning run when he scampered home on a throwing error that followed a successful bunt attempt by Scott Hurst to lead off the eighth.