MLB Team Report - Pittsburgh Pirates - INSIDE PITCH
It would be almost impossible for Francisco Liriano to get off to a better start with Pittsburgh.
The left-hander has won each of his first three starts since being activated from the disabled list May 11 after missing the beginning of the season with a broken right arm. Signed as a free agent in February, Liriano has allowed only one run in each start and is 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA.
The only other pitchers in Pirates' history to win his first three starts of a season and allow zero or one run in each is left-hander Dave LaPoint, who accomplished the feat in August of 1988 after being acquired from the Chicago White Sox in a trade.
Liriano's performance is something that was difficult to see coming for the Pirates, who were 5-4 winners over Milwaukee on Sunday.
He was just 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA last season with Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox last season. However, Liriano credits a new overhand delivery that he worked on during winter ball in his native Dominican Republic for the improved results along with trying to keep things simple.
"I'm not trying to overthrow," Liriano said. "When I overthrow, I get myself in trouble sometimes. I'm just trying to stay calm and throw strikes."
Liriano will face a stern test Monday, though, when he faces the Detroit Tigers, who lead the major leagues in runs scored, in the opener of a two-game series. Liriano is 5-7 with a 5.93 ERA in his career against the Tigers but Pirates manager Clint Hurdle believes the 29-year-old is a tough matchup for any team with the way he is pitching at present.
"It'll be no mystery for him to face them, so there should be some comfort zone for him," Hurdle said. "He's done OK against that team. A couple of matchups have gone his way, a few haven't. He's been pitching well and this will be a good opportunity to see what he can do against one of the best lineups in baseball."
MLB Team Report - Pittsburgh Pirates - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won two
PAST 10 GAMES: 8-2
NEXT: Pirates (Francisco Liriano, 3-0, 1.00 ERA) at Tigers (Justin Verlander, 5-4, 3.66 ERA)
--RHP Jason Grilli pitched a perfect ninth inning Sunday to record his major league leading 20th save of the season. Opponents have scored on Grilli in just three of his 25 outings this season but he's allowed just one run in his last nine.
--LHP Francisco Liriano starts for the fourth time this season when he faces Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers on Monday afternoon in Detroit. Liriano has allowed no more than one earned run in his first three starts this season and struck out nine over seven innings during his last outing, a 1-0 Pittsburgh victory over the Chicago Cubs last Wednesday at PNC Park.
--CF Andrew McCutchen went 2-for-5 and scored Sunday, extending his hitting streak to five games. During that stretch, McCutchen is hitting .500 (8-for-16) with a home run, three RBIs and three runs scored and has improved his average to .294 on the season.
--LF Sterling Marte went 2-for-4 with a double and now has 19 multi-hit games this season. Marte also stole second in the fourth inning and now has three in his last four games.
--LHP Wandy Rodriguez won his fourth in a row, holding Milwaukee to three runs on seven hits. Rodriguez struck out four but did not walk a batter for the second consecutive outing. During his four-game winning streak, Rodriguez has struck out 16 while posting a 1.87 ERA.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He didn't have his best stuff out there today. But we got it done." -- Manager Clint Hurdle on LHP Wandy Rodriguez.
MLB Team Report - Pittsburgh Pirates - ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Charlie Morton (Tommy John surgery in June 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He left his rehab start May 3 with Triple-A Indianapolis after three innings because of shoulder inflammation. He made a rehab start for Double-A Altoona on May 16. He made his second rehab start with Double-A Altoona on May 21 the one for Triple-A Indianapolis on May 26. He will start again for Indianapolis on May 31 then being re-evaluated.
--RHP James McDonald (sore right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 1. He threw off a mound May 21 for the first time since being injured. He will begin an injury rehabilitation assignment May 27 with Double-A Altoona.
--INF John McDonald (strained lower back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 15. He will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on May 27 and play five games before being reevaluated.
--RHP Jeff Karstens (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He was scratched from a scheduled rehab start May 24 for Triple-A Indianapolis and has been shut down indefinitely. The Pirates have yet to determine a timetable for when he might begin throwing again.
--INF Chase d'Arnaud (left thumb surgery in March 2013) had a torn ligament repaired and was placed on the disabled list on March 20. He began a rehab assignment with high Class A Bradenton on May 16, moved to Double-A Altoona on May 19 then moved to Triple-A Indianapolis on May 25.
RHP A.J. Burnett
LHP Wandy Rodriguez
RHP Jeanmar Gomez
LHP Jeff Locke
LHP Francisco Liriano
RHP Jason Grilli (closer)
RHP Mark Melancon
LHP Tony Watson
RHP Jose Contreras
LHP Justin Wilson
RHP Vin Mazzaro
RHP Bryan Morris
1B Garrett Jones
2B Neil Walker
SS Clint Barmes
3B Pedro Alvarez
INF Brandon Inge
INF Gaby Sanchez
INF Jordy Mercer
LF Starling Marte
CF Andrew McCutchen
RF Travis Snider
OF Jose Tabata