On Monday, Francisco Liriano took the mound with the Pirates teetering on the edge of some kind of cliff, just a bad road trip away from falling maybe as far as third place in the NL Central. Liriano responded with a brilliant start against the Padres, which has kicked off a nice run of four wins in five games to open this road trip up. Now he's got a chance to help put an exclamation point on the end of the trip. The Pirates have already faced and beaten the Giants' two best pitchers. They will close this four-game series out with their own two best pitchers. Despite their good place, the division standings haven't budge an inch since Monday, which means the Pirates need this win as much as they needed the win over the Padres on Monday.
Of course, the good news is that Liriano has been beyond lights out in his last two starts. First he threw a complete game against the Cardinals on 94 pitches, then he struck out 13 Padres in seven innings. If that Liriano shows up again tonight, well, it might not matter what the offense does. They should be able to score some runs against Tim Lincecum, though. Lincecum's been up and down all year, showing flashes of his old self from time to time, but he's given up 11 runs in 11 innings in his last two starts. The Pirates ability to strike out a ton does seem to maybe make them candidates for a strong Lincecum start, but they've been hitting the ball fairly well this week and so I think they should be able to get some runs on the board.
The first pitch tonight is at 9:10.