Francisco Liriano faces Johnny Cueto in a Wild Card Game rematch today.
Two players that were key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013 were Francisco Liriano and Pedro Alvarez. Both played large roles in the Pirates 2013 regular season as well as their playoff run. The Pirates need both in 2014. Big time. Both players aren’t entirely satisfied with their start to the 2014 season.
Liriano has struck out a ton of batters. Alvarez has a handful of bombs. But the production in between has been inconsistent. The Bucs will need more from each of their stars and it just might start today.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds have played some exciting game recently, none more than the Wild Card Game at PNC Park. The game will be remembered forever in Pittsburgh sports lore and in a few years, everyone you know will say they were at that game. We wish we were, but the fans that were raising hell on Federal Street on October 1 did such a spectacular job, I’m not sure I could have done more than they did.
Today Francisco Liriano and Johnny Cueto face off again with the series on the line. Liriano went seven innings in the Wild Card Game and allowed just one earned run. Cueto was only able to withstand the jeers for 3.1 innings giving up three earned runs, four overall.
Liriano has made three starts in 2014, but hasn’t looked as sharp as he did during his NL Comeback Player of the Year campaign. Over 18 innings, the southpaw has allowed 15 hits, eight earned runs, but has piled up 21 strikeouts.
Against Cincy last year, Liriano was 0-3 in 24.1 innings giving up 10 earned runs. He lost 2-0 to Mike Leake last June. He gave up two solo bombs at Great American on June 17. Liriano was touched up for five runs in a 5-3 loss in July and then had a no run-support loss when he went eight innings-gave up two runs in a 6-5 ten inning loss at PNC in September.
But then that Wild Card Game…oh, my…oh, it was a thing of beauty. Liriano at PNC Park was nearly untouchable in 2013. He flashed excellent stuff, but on the road is where the improvement will need to happen in 2014.
The 2014 Pedro Alvarez Home Run Tracker
On the offensive side of the game, the Pirates have been blasting home runs at a league leading pace. But since the start of the 2012 season, Pedro Alvarez has hit more than anyone in the National League during day games.
Let me clear my throat! Ahem! Todays game starts at 12:35.
El Toro has hit 33 home runs when he is in #DayDro mode. Miggy Cabrera has 34 to lead Major League Baseball, today Alvarez can take the lead in this category.
The Pirates slugger is tied for the NL lead in homers early in the 2014 season. But Alvarez has struggled recently with seven hits in 43 at bats against righties, he has two knocks-one homer-against lefties.
In the Reds series, Alvarez is 1-8 and just 6-31 on the road trip.
Today would be a good day for Alvarez to come out of his mini-slump as he backs up Frank the Tank.