There was a point when the Pirates were up 6-1 early on that I was going to text my friend, who’s a Giants fan, gloating over their significant improvement on yesterday’s affair. Something stopped me, though, and as the game wore on, the Giants chipped away and chipped away until a dropped Polanco catch down the left field line resulted in the 7-6 Giants lead that was the final score.
Liriano pitched okay; I would say he was better than he’s been in recent starts, but he still had trouble throwing strikes, which is pretty close to the main goal of a starting pitcher. He managed to let the Giants get 4 runs in 3 different innings and slowly chip away at the Pirates’ lead, but he still left with the lead intact. Liriano had a lot of trouble getting first pitch strikes, only throwing 13 of his 24 first pitches for strikes.
He had even more trouble keeping the second pitch of plate appearances in the zone, although the Giants were a little more willing to give him some strikes on these.
The last plot I have for you shows Liriano's location by pitch. Look at how many of his two-seamers (grey squares) are outside of the strike zone, including 13 1st/2nd pitches of a plate appearance out of the zone.
The lucky one who blew it tonight, though, was Jared Hughes out of the bullpen, despite allowing mostly weak contact including a few infield hits.
The real question is, does it really matter who is blowing these games? It’s not like one or two guys can be singled out for not pitching well. It’s really a team effort. Earlier, guitar player Tim and I were texting and he was complaining about the Pirates sending Boscan down for Lobstein. My comment to him: “Honestly dude, all of these guys are interchangeable in my mind. All guys who come in, give up home runs, and bounce up and down between Pittsburgh and Indy.” While this doesn’t necessarily hold for the until-recently stalwart bullpen arms who pitched for the Pirates today, the sentiment is generally correct: some pitchers will pitch each game for the Pirates and a subset of them will give up too many runs and lose the game for the Pirates. It’s a frustrating spot to be in. Here's another highlight of the pierogi race on wrestling night to lighten the mood:
Tomorrow is another day, I suppose, but each day seems to only bring with it a unique type of anguish for Pirates fans. At least the starter for the Giants, Albert Suarez, isn’t as good as the last 9 starters the Pirates have gone up against, despite his 3.69 ERA. It’s only the fourth start of his MLB career. Go Bucs.