Nice to squash you, squash you very much.
Is anyone else getting a sense that when Francisco Liriano takes the mound, he's pitching with a serious amount of confidence? Watching him take his warmup tosses before the game he looked calm, controlled and focused, and there isn't anything better than seeing a pitcher take that demeanor with him from warm ups into the game.
Sometimes there's a difference between watching someone's performance, and seeing what the performance looks like through the box scores. Friday night there was a bit of both; for the most part he was as effective as the numbers indicate, but he did fall behind a lot of hitters. Liriano ran into some troubles in the fourth inning and the Mariners scored a pair, but other than that inning never faced more than the minimum of three batters. 59 of his 98 (56 fastballs, 19 sliders, 23 changeups) pitches went for strikes, which is a little low but certainly not bad. When he got behind in the count, which he did quite often, he was able to fight back and keep the Mariners aggressive instead of falling further behind, and letting Seattle relax and wait for the walk. Another positive I took away was that Liriano clearly had confidence in all of his pitches, throwing fastballs, changeups and sliders periodically through the night when behind:
1-0: 6 fastballs, 3 sliders, 4 changeups
2-0: 4 fastballs
3-0: 1 fastball
2-1: 2 fastballs, 1 slider, 4 changeups
3-1: 1 fastball
3-2: 1 fastball, 2 changeups
It's a rare thing when a pitcher will go to a breaking ball when down anything worse than 2-1, and we saw that with Cisco last night. We also saw the norm of going right back to the fastball when down 2-0 or 3-0. What I saw that was great was that he wasn't afraid to throw his off-speed pitch when behind in the count, and for Liriano that says quite a bit about the pitcher he's morphing into.
On the other hand, it was great to see the Twins take on a pitcher they were supposed to pound in Carlos Silva. Silva struggled from the start, throwing 23 pitches in the first as Denard Span and Nick Punto (way to get dirty, LNP!!) led off with back-to-back doubles, with Justin Morneau driving in Punto to cap a two-run inning. The former Twin appeared to get it together in the second and third innings, throwing just 21 pitches in those frames. But in the bottom of the fourth, he was as hittable as he's ever been.
With the game knotted at 2, Silva walked Morneau to lead off the inning, putting one man on for Jason Kubel who launched a shot into straight away center field. It was a gorgeous shot and Kubel's 17th sky jack of the season.
Then Delmon Young singled.
Then Brian Buscher singled.
Then Adam Everett singled, and Young scored.
Then Carlos Gomez grounded into a fielder's choice, putting Everett out at second. Sigh.
Then Span singled.
Then Punto singled.
Then Silva was given the hook. Joe Mauer and Kubel each singled after his departure but they were still his runs, and his final line was 3.1 IP, 9 hits, 9 runs, 0 strikeouts and a solitary walk. It was a harsh return to Minneapolis for Carlos, but I wouldn't have had it any other way.
Friday night's game was fun to watch for any number of reasons (including Punto's double play in the top of the 6th), but the result was a tie for first place in the AL Central. Muchos gracias, Oakland. In the Wild Card race, the Twins are still two-and-a-half games off the pace set by the BoSox. Congrats to caseintheface for being last night's game thread champion!
|Name||# of Posts|
Stars of the Game
#3 Nick Punto (2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 double plays)
#2 Jason Kubel (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, R)
#1 Francisco Liriano (7 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 5 K, 2 BB)
|Final - 8.15.2008||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|WP: Francisco Liriano (3 - 3)
LP: Carlos Silva (4 - 14)