The Pirates went 5-for-13 with RISP; the Cardinals 3-for-8. The Pirates increased their MLB-worst average in these situations by three points to .225; the Cardinals improved their league-leading average one point, to .339.
Allen Craig, who has been doing amazing things with runners in scoring position (.485 batting average), struck out in his one opportunity.
Commenting on his team's offensive outbreak tonight, Clint Hurdle said afterwards that none of the offensive numbers from earlier in the season matter going forward: "We continue to remind these guys that you look in front, you play forward. It doesn't matter what's happened behind us. None of that matters right now. So all those numbers, they don't matter. They really don't. What's in front of us? The game today. We went out and were able to answer the bell."
During his postgame press conference, Hurdle made special mention of Francisco Liriano's pitching with RISP this year: "One of the most important developments for him this year is pitching more effectively and more consistently with runners on base."
Last season teams hit .267/.377/.427 and posted a 1.23 K/BB ratio with RISP against Liriano. Entering tonight's game his numbers were .247/.304/.339 with a 2.33 K/BB ratio.
One of my favorite Bill James tools is Game Score for starting pitchers. Simply put, it uses a standard starting pitcher's line to come up with an overall score that runs from 0-100, although pitchers can post negative/100+ numbers. A game score of 50 is average and 65-and-over is what James calls a "gem."
Francisco Liriano's pitching line tonight was 7 innings pitched, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 earned run, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts, good for a game score of 71. A gem.
For the season, Liriano now has 7 gems in 15 starts. He is now tied with Jeff Locke for most gems. (Matt Harvey leads Major League Baseball with 14.)
Locke and Liriano league leaders
After allowing only one run in seven innings tonight, Liriano lowered this ERA on the season to 2.16. Among all pitchers with 90+ innings pitched this season, the Pirates now have two starters in the top four in terms of ERA. Locke has the third lowest ERA, 2.15, with Liriano right behind him.
With the win, Liriano has now recorded a decision in each of the 15 games he has started this year. That is the longest streak of the season in the MLB. His personal streak is now 16 games, extending back to the last game he pitched for the Chicago White Sox.
#SacrificeFlyWatch2013 is over
Gaby Sanchez put an end to the Pirates streak of 36 games (dating back to June 15) without a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning. The Major League record for games without a sacrifice fly is 49 games by the 1967 California Angels. The Pirates' streak ranks fifth longest in Major League history (the SF statistic started being kept in 1954).
After the game Clint Hurdle even mentioned the ending of the sacrifice fly streak as one of the things that went right offensively for the team tonight.
Tabata groundless #YCPB
Jose Tabata entered the game with the eighth-highest career ground ball rate, 60.4 percent (min. 500 PA; statistic dates to 2002). Jake Westbrook has induced the fourth highest rate of ground balls, 59 percent (min. 500 innings pitched). Tonight Tabata did not hit a ground ball.
Clint Hurdle will celebrate his 56 birthday tomorrow. There is no truth to the rumor that that is the reason a doubleheader was scheduled.