Some of my haziest Pirate memories of the past six or seven years all involve late-summer trips to the West Coast. For whatever reason, I feel like the Padres have headed out to San Diego and often San Francisco or LA in August of just about every season, where they go to play meaningless baseball games that might as well not even happen for us East Coasters. This year is quite different; the Pirates are heading out west with a one-game lead in the NL Central, and whether they're in first place or third place when they return home is almost entirely up to them.
Tonight, Francisco Liriano looks to play "stopper" again. In his last start, the Pirates were fresh off of their sweep at the hands of the Rockies and the Starling Marte gaffe. Liriano responded with one of the most brilliantly pitched games of his career -- a 94-pitch complete game that was one out away from being a shutout. Since July 1st, Liriano has made eight starts. Six of them have had game scores of 71 or higher, four have been 74+, and two of them hit 80 on the nose. The other two starts were bad ones (against the Reds and his debacle in Colorao), but he's been really brilliant for the Pirates over the last six weeks. Starting this road trip off the right way is in his hands.
Andrew Cashner goes for the Padres. He's dealt with a lot of injuries on his way to fulfilling the highly-touted prospect status he hd with the Cubs that made him the centerpiece of the Anthony Rizzo deal from the Padres' end. While he's been OK as a starter this year, he has a 5.21 ERA since July 1st. The Padres have scored even fewer runs than the Pirates have this year.
The first pitch tonight is at 10:10.