National League Preview from The Sports Network|
Friday, August 9th
(All times Eastern)
Pittsburgh Pirates (70-44) at Colorado Rockies (52-64), 8:40 p.m.
Probable Starting Pitchers: Pittsburgh - Francisco Liriano (12-4, 2.02)
Colorado - Jorge De La Rosa (10-6, 3.31)
(Sports Network) - Francisco Liriano has made it a habit this season of
shutting down opposing offenses, but has never before pitched at hitter-
friendly Coors Field.
The way the Colorado Rockies hit during their recent road trip, it might not
matter where they play at this point.
Liriano eyes a fourth straight winning start on Friday night when his
Pittsburgh Pirates open up a three-game series versus the struggling Rockies.
The left-handed Liriano has allowed one earned run or less in 11 of his 16
starts this season, going 12-4 with a 2.02 earned run average. The 12
victories are the most for Liriano in a season since he won a career-high 14
with the Minnesota Twins in 2010 and are the highest total for a Pirates lefty
since Tom Gorzelanny went 14-10 in 2007.
Liriano has yielded just one run over 21 2/3 innings during his three-start
win streak and won for the seventh time in eight starts last Saturday in a 5-2
decision over the visiting Rockies. The 29-year-old gave up just two hits over
seven scoreless innings and was able to work around five walks while striking
"Liriano is one of those guys that if you don't get to him early it makes it
real tough," said Colorado manager Walt Weiss.
Liriano was facing the Rockies for only the second time in his career,
splitting the two decisions.
Jorge De La Rosa took the loss against Liriano last weekend, falling to 10-6
with a 3.31 ERA in 23 starts this year after giving up three runs on six hits
and two walks over four innings. That included a solo homer to Jose Tabata in
the fourth inning and the lefty needed 91 pitches, just 59 for strikes, to get
through his short outing.
The 32-year-old is 3-3 with a 4.24 in 12 previous meetings with the Pirates,
including eight starts, and will look to hit the strike zone more often
De La Rosa may need to be sharp tonight given Colorado's performance on its
recent road trip. After dropping the opener of the 10-game swing in Atlanta on
July 29 by a 9-8 margin, the Rockies hit just .216 and averaged 1.7 runs per
game over the final nine contests.
The lone win on the trek came last Friday in Pittsburgh, but Colorado lost the
final five games and plated just three runs in getting swept by the New York
Mets in three games.
The Rockies also lost a pair of key contributors to the disabled list during
the swing, with Carlos Gonzalez's nagging sprained right middle finger putting
him on the shelf Wednesday before starter Tyler Chatwood was lost to right
elbow inflammation on Thursday.
Gonzalez is hitting .302 with 26 homes and 70 RBI this season, leaving the
struggling Rockies without their best hitter.
"Offensively, we haven't done very well," said Rox second baseman DJ LeMahieu,
who had three hits in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Mets. "So it will be nice to
get back home and hopefully we can turn it around a little bit.
While the Rockies return home struggling, things could not have gone better
for the Pirates during their recently-completed homestand. Pittsburgh went 9-2
on the stay, its first nine-win homestand since 2005.
Even the loss of center fielder Andrew McCutchen from Thursday's starting
lineup wasn't enough to derail the Pirates, who rallied from an early 4-0 hole
to beat the Miami Marlins 5-4 in 10 innings on Thursday to complete a three-
Russell Martin was the hero, with his pinch-hit single scoring Josh Harrison
with two outs.
"He responded tremendously in the opportunity," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle
said of Martin pinch-hitting. "Excellent team win and a strong homestand for
McCutchen, hitting .313 with 16 homers and 65 RBI in 111 games this season,
was a late scratch due to tightness in his right shoulder. He was able to
pinch-hit on Thursday and is day-to-day.
Pittsburgh's fifth straight victory pushed its lead over St. Louis for first
place in the NL Central to four games.
After taking two of three at home from the Rockies last weekend, the Pirates
have won seven of the past 10 encounters in this series.
08/09 10:51:21 ET