May 11, 2013
Pirates 11, Mets 2
Turning Point in the game: After coming off the disabled list, free agent acquisition Francisco Liriano, in his Pirates debut, shut down the Mets over 5 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts. He gave up six hits and two walks in a performance that showed Bucco fans that he was out to become the staff ace for 2013, and that this year's Pirates were built for the long haul with solid pitching and clutch hitting.
Francisco Liriano turned out to be the ace of Pittsburgh's pitching staff in 2013, something that became evident with his May 11 Pirates debut against the New York Mets.
Liriano struck out nine batters over 5 1/3 innings and the Pirates teed off on New York's pitching for an 11-2 win against the Mets in New York.
"He's pitched before and he's been good," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Good to have him in the fold now, for me it's three left-handers in the rotation, I like that a lot. Especially in the division we're in, the way we match up against the teams."
Jordy Mercer homered twice and Jose Tabata had four hits, including a two-run shot for the Pirates.
The Mets have struggled to score at home, but the start by Jonathon Niese would have put any team in a hole. He tied a career high by allowing eight runs, and walked more batters than he struck out for the fourth time in eight starts this season.
Liriano, returning from a broken non-throwing arm, allowed one run in 5 1/3 innings and 90 pitches. He gave up six hits and two walks.
"Today went good. Really good location and just using a lot today," Liriano said. "It was a little weird, nervous. But that went away and it just feels good to get the first one out of the way."
After a late-spring injury to Jeff Karstens and the release of Jonathan Sanchez, the Pirates needed the help in their rotation.
"You can probably count the teams on one hand that have really good offensive splits more so against left-handed pitchers than against right-handed pitching," Hurdle said.
The Pirates jumped on Niese early, and finally drove him out of the game in the fifth.
Mercer hit a solo shot after third baseman David Wright made a nifty barehanded play to throw out Starling Marte, and Tabata hit an RBI double off the base of the wall in center field.
Michael McKenry followed with a two-run single off reliever Scott Atchison and Clint Barmes followed with an RBI single before Liriano popped foul to end the inning.
Liriano agreed to a contract with Pittsburgh in the offseason, but broke his right arm on Dec. 25, the day before he was supposed to fly to Pittsburgh and sign a $12.75 million, two-year contract. Liriano, who said he was injured when he slapped a door in his house, signed a revised offer and prepared for a delayed start to the season.
And Liriano delivered. He set the first seven batters down in order, and the Mets didnt get anyone to third base until the sixth inning, when Justin Turner singled with Wright on first and one out. Marlon Byrd - now a Pirate following his late season trade - hit a tough dribbler down the third base line that Brandon Inge charged, but he mishandled the transfer to his throwing hand on a play that was ruled a single.
The Mets put two runners on in the fourth inning after Byrd's two-out single. But Liriano struck out Andrew Brown. He fanned Daniel Murphy to end the fifth after Tejada's double.
Barmes hit an RBI single in the second inning and Tabata hit a two-run homer in the third, after Andrew McCutchen's RBI single.
"For our guys to swing the bats today the way they did in a big ballpark, I think that was a feel good for the offensive side of our game," Hurdle said.
In the bottom of the seventh, reliever Bryan Morris hit pinch-hitter Jordany Valdespin with his first pitch. The night before, Valdespin hit a long home run and took plenty of time time admiring its trajectory.
When he returned to the dugout after the inning, he threw his helmet in the corner and tore off his batting gloves while no one acknowledged him. Over on the Pittsburgh side, Morris received fist bumps from manager Clint Hurdle and many of his teammates.