Liriano, who has twice won the Comeback Player of the Year Award, leads the Majors in total walks with 38 and lost for the fourth time in five starts. After the loss, he couldn't isolate whether his inconsistency stemmed from a mental or mechanical place. He could't say why he kept getting behind in counts and couldn't locate his fastball. But Liriano summed it up simply.
"It's a tough time right now," Liriano said.
Liriano first won the Comeback Player of the Year Award in 2010 with the Minnesota Twins, then in 2013 with the Pirates. In 2013, Liriano was traded from the Twins to the White Sox and later landed in Pittsburgh, where he finished 16-8. He's no stranger to struggling on the mound and bouncing back.
"I've been here before, so like I said, just got to keep working, keep fighting, and try to find a way to get better and go out there and execute pitches and pitch from behind there like the ones before and try and learn from mistakes," Liriano said.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Liriano was pitching wild out of the strike zone early in counts, and wild in the strike zone late. Liriano walked two batters and intentionally walked another in the first inning.
It hasn't been all bad for Liriano, though his last quality start came on May 6 when he pitched seven innings and gave up two runs in the Pirates' 4-2 win in St. Louis. Liriano has struggled to put together a complete performance in his last few starts, but registered two wins, two no-decisions and a loss in April.
"We've not been able to find a consistent rhythm and stay in it, maintain it for six innings or seven innings," Hurdle said. "So we see snapshots in it. We see some strong sequences, some longer sequences, but the overall consistency hasn't been there."
While Liriano tries to escape this rut, he finds it helpful to remember successful starts and what went right.
"Just stay positive and remind yourself of everything you did this game and apply it to games moving forward," Liriano said. "Like I said, tough time right now, just got to keep working and find a way to get better."
Sarah K. Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh.