Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano has dominated since he made his debut on May 11. In fact, he has only surrendered two earned runs in 11 innings this season. The left-hander will be looking for his third straight win in as many tries Wednesday night against the Chicago Cubs.
The 29-year-old missed the first 25 games of the 2013 Major League Baseball season after he suffered an injury to his right arm before Spring Training. Even though it took longer than expected to get Liriano in the starting rotation, the good news is it has paid off big time. The eighth year player has struck out 16 batters and only walked five in two starts.
Liriano will not be able to settle for anything less than what he has accomplished so far this season when he suits up against Chicago. That is because the Cubs will send starter Jeff Samardzija to the mound to counter Liriano.
Samardzija has struggled at times this year, but he has absolutely dominated the Pirates in his career. In fact, the 28-year-old is 4-0 with a 0.92 earned run average in 14 career games (three starts) against the Pirates. What is even more impressive is that he has recorded 33 strikeouts, nine walks and only surrendered one home run in 39 innings in those games. These numbers include Samardzija’s flawless performance on Opening Day in which he gave up just two hits and struck out nine in eight scoreless innings.
“That game against Pittsburgh on Opening Day, he pitched inside incredibly,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum told MLB.com, “and we have to get back to pitching to both sides of the plate and not letting guys get comfortable.”
The series finale between the two teams certainly has the makings to be an epic pitching showdown. Hopefully, Liriano and Samardzija can live up to the hype.