Liriano Falls Apart after Early Success Davis Crushes 3 Hrs to Spark Easy Victory

By Brink, Bill | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), May 21, 2014 | Go to article overview

Liriano Falls Apart after Early Success Davis Crushes 3 Hrs to Spark Easy Victory


Brink, Bill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


The issues that befell Francisco Liriano in the first five innings Tuesday embodied those that have affected the Pirates all season. The team that won 94 games last year did so with an exceptional pitching staff. This year's crew, made up of mostly the same players, has not performed to that level.

Say what you want about pitcher's wins as an instructive statistic, but Pirates starters only have five, and Gerrit Cole has four.

The rotation now has 20 losses, the latest a 9-2 rout by the bats of Chris Davis and the Baltimore Orioles at PNC Park. Davis went 4 for 5 and hit three home runs off three Pirates pitchers, driving in five runs. The Pirates fell to 18-26 after losing their fourth game out of five.

Liriano (0-4) allowed six runs, four of them in the fifth inning, on nine hits, two of those consecutive home runs by Davis and Nelson Cruz. He walked only two, but they came at the wrong time and led to two runs.

"I was just leaving too many pitches out in the middle of the plate," Liriano said. "Just missing my spot a lot and couldn't repeat two good pitches in a row."

Liriano's ERA increased to 4.86, the latest numerical sign of the rotation's struggles. Pirates starters entered the game ranked 26th in the majors with a 4.48 ERA. The fact that 14.5 percent of fly balls allowed left the ballpark, tied for the second-worst rate in the majors, contributes to that ERA. That represents a sharp departure from the 3.50 ERA and 9.4 percent home-run-to-fly-ball rate from 2013.

Liriano allowed the majority of the damage, but Davis wasn't done after Liriano left. He hit a two-run home run off of Liriano in the fifth, a solo shot facing Jared Hughes in the seventh and another two-run shot in the ninth off Jeanmar Gomez. Davis hit three home runs in a game for the second time in his career, the first coming Aug. 24, 2012, against the Toronto Blue Jays, and the three home runs doubled his season total.

"We gave him very hittable pitches," manager Clint Hurdle said. …

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