Today’s Game Rewind is a very recent contest, especially compared to some of the great games from the past that we cover here. However, the most significant player for the Pittsburgh Pirates who was born on this date (October 26th) is lefty Francisco Liriano, so I thought that I would take a look at one of his best outings while with the Pirates. Spoiler alert: He did well in this game.
On August 19, 2013, Liriano and the Pirates took on the San Diego Padres. The Pirates had a 72-51 record, well on their way to their first season over .500 since 1992 and their first playoff appearance in 21 years. Francisco Liriano was a big part of this team’s success, with a 13-5 record going into this game. His mound opponent was Andrew Cashner, who had an 8-7 record at the time while pitching for a team that was 12 games under .500 (56-68). This was a Monday night game at Petco Park after the Pirates played a Sunday afternoon home game. The Pirates held a one-game lead in the division over the St Louis Cardinals going into the day, with the Cardinals winning their game in Milwaukee before the festivities were over in San Diego.
This game was a pitching duel from the start, with no significant offense to speak of during the first three innings. Andrew McCutchen had an opposite field ground ball single in the first. Garrett Jones had a walk that was erased on a double play in the second. Tony Sanchez put a single through the right side of the infield in the third and reached second base on a sacrifice by Liriano. That was as close as the Pirates came to scoring in the first 1/3rd of the game.
Liriano struck out the first two batters of the game, then got a liner to Neil Walker at second base to end the first inning. The Padres had a two-out single in the second, but Liriano struck out the other three batters in the frame. Ronny Cedeno had a lead-off single in the third and moved to second on a balk. However, Liriano struck out the next three batters to end the threat. Through three innings, he already had eight strikeouts.
McCutchen led off the fourth with another single that found a hole. Pedro Alvarez was up next and he singled on a low liner to right field. Chris Denorfia misplayed the ball out there, and what should have been runners on first and second, turned into an error that allowed Alvarez to circle the bases.
In the bottom of the fourth, Liriano picked up his ninth strikeout to start the frame. He got a grounder for the second out, then ran into some big trouble. He walked the next batter, then gave up a double to put two runners in scoring position. Liriano issued another walk to load the bases. That brought up Ronny Cedeno, who grounded out on the first pitch he saw to end the threat.
The Pirates were retired in order in the fifth on just seven pitches. The Padres got a one-out double from Chris Denorfia, but Liriano piled up two more strikeouts to get out of the inning and keep it a 2-0 game.
With two outs in the sixth, Pedro Alvarez pulled a ball into the right field stands to make it 3-0. It was his 31st home run of the season and it gave him 82 RBIs. Liriano continued to roll on, retiring the side in order while picking up his 12th strikeout.
The seventh inning was a quick one for Andrew Cashner, who set down the Pirates on six pitches. Liriano had a 1-2-3 inning as well, though it took him 15 pitches to end the frame. On his 105th pitch of the night, he struck out Jaff Decker for his 13th strikeout of the game. It was his high for strikeouts in a game while with the Pirates.
With two relievers coming in during the eighth, both sides were set down quickly. The Pirates had a walk, but Josh Harrison got picked off, so nothing happened in the frame. Justin Wilson came on for the Pirates and struck out two batters. He retired the side in order, though it took 18 pitches.
The Pirates got another walk that was quickly erased in the ninth. This time it was McCutchen getting the walk, with Alvarez hitting into a double play. That brought on Mark Melancon to try for his eighth save. He did not have an easy inning.
Melancon got a ground out to start the inning. Chase Headley followed with a single, that looked to be harmless after Melancon picked up a strikeout for the second out. Nick Hundley lined a double to the left-center gap, scoring Headley. Hundley moved up on a wild pitch, but Melancon ended the threat with a strikeout on his 22nd pitch. The Pirates won 3-1 and held their one-game lead in the NL Central.
Here’s video of Alvarez’s Little League homer and his big boy homer
Here’s the boxscore and play-by-play from Baseball-Reference.