Francisco Liriano returned from a brief absence to pitch a strong game, but the Pirates' offense remained absent in a 1-0 loss to Detroit. They got shut out on two hits just a day after suffering a three-hit shutout. It's not like they were facing Max Scherzer and David Price, either. Yesterday it was the inexperienced Shane Greene, who was never a top prospect. Today it was longtime reliever Alfredo Simon, who just became a full-time starter last year. (Yes, he had a nice ERA, but his xFIP of 4.05 was nothing special.)
Liriano gave up only four hits and a walk over six innings, while fanning seven. Unfortunately, one of the hits was a 6th-inning HR by
Miguel Cabrera J.D. Martinez Victor Martinez Yoenis Cespedes Ian Kinsler Rajai Davis. Jared Hughes struck out the side in the 7th and Tony Watson threw a perfect 8th. Mark Melancon threw a scoreless 9th, walking one and getting a double play. His fastball and/or cutter still registered only 88-90 and he threw a lot of curves.
Meanwhile, the offense . . . wasn't. The Pirates managed only three baserunners. Andrew McCutchen was hit by a pitch in the 1st but got caught stealing. With two out in the 4th, McCutchen and Neal Walker singled after lengthy at-bats. Naturally, Starling Marte chased the first pitch he saw and grounded out. And that was it. For the fourth game in a row, the Pirates drew no walks. Fittingly, Joakim Soria needed only ten pitches to breeze through a perfect 9th. The Pirates now have the highest K rate, the fewest walks, and the lowest OBP (.255 -- for comparison, Rod Barajas' OBP in his one dismal year with the Pirates was .283) in the NL. Obviously, this won't continue, but it's getting harder and harder to recognize the team that had the league's most walks and fourth fewest Ks last year.