The Pirates all but won the game in the first inning. They sent nine batters to the plate and scored four runs on three hits off LA starter Dan Haren. Haren did settle down after that and managed to give up just one more run over the next four innings but the Pirates were all over him in the first. It started with a Russell Martin bases loaded walk which was followed by a sacrifice fly from Ike Davis and a Josh Harrison double that scored two and that was all the Pirates needed.
It was interesting after the first inning that despite facing nine batters and walking four Haren had only thrown two more pitches than Liriano who didn't give up a hit and only walked two. The Pirates were getting to Haren early in the count and Travis Berardi gave this nice little nugget:
@ThreeRiversBlog first pitch - 4 times, second pitch - 2 times— Travis Berardi (@TBerardi_OVA) July 23, 2014
Whatever works, right?
Liriano though, was spot on. After throwing 22 pitches in the first inning he threw no more than 15 pitches in any other inning which included throwing only 16 pitches between the fourth and fifth innings. Coming in, and during the broadcast, it was noted about how Liriano has lost some velo on his slider but tonight it was back up to its 2013 levels. He threw his slider 37 times tonight and averaged just over 88 mph and threw it for a strike 24 times and got five swings and misses. That is about two mph faster on his slider than he's averaged this season and his strike% is way higher than his season average of 35%. All-in-all it was really good stuff.
The Pirates offense fizzled out after the first inning but added on runs in the second inning on a massive Travis Snider home run and then Snider scored from first on a McCutchen double in the seventh inning.
Good stuff on the series win. Long West Coast swing coming up which means a lot of late night baseball. Hooray!