Just a few days ago I wrote a piece that said the Pittsburgh Pirates needed to put up or shut up. This is the time of year they will make it or break their chance to win it all. Insert whatever cliché you want but the time for them to get things done is right now. Starting pitcher Francisco Liriano did not waste any time getting something done. He stepped onto the pitching rubber and showed the entire National League Central, much less his teammates, that he had come to play.
All total he threw seven innings giving up 4 hits and zero runs while striking out 13 San Diego Padres. The Padres got a good pitching performance of their own and the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds both won. This clutch performance by Liriano is the stuff playoff baseball is made of. He put the team on his pitching shoulder and carried them to victory. That is exactly what this team needed with the veteran A.J. Burnett set to go on Tuesday. Whatever happens with him, you can bet the Pirates had a chance to win before the game even started.
After a clutch job like Liriano’s last night, usually a good team will get some good fortune. Maybe they came through with a clutch win to stay up last night but will gain a game on Tuesday. That would be one example but suffice it to say the early returns for the Pirates gut-check are extremely good. There is no quit in this team. They are not running out of gas or planning on stopping short of the finish line and Liriano’s outing proves it.