Before the game, I said that to have success against Francisco Liriano, the Pirates would need to draw some walks. Through five innings, the Pirates drew no walks. In the sixth, Liriano unintentionally/intentionally walked Andrew McCutchen. In the seventh, Mike McKenry drew a walk. That was it.
As it turned out, that was very nearly enough for the Pirates to pull out a win. McKenry’s walk off of Liriano in the seventh loaded the bases up with one out and the Twins clinging to a 1-0 lead. Rod Gardenhire left Liriano in for some reason at this point, and Rod Barajas nearly made him pay by smoking a sinking line drive into left center that seemed destined either for the gap or to bounce in front of Denard Span. Either way, it looked like enough runs would score for the Pirates to take the lead. Instead, Span made a fantastic diving catch and the Bucs had to settle for a game tying sac fly. They couldn’t get a second run across, and so Josh Willingham’s home run off of Jason Grilli in the top of the eighth was the difference.
The good news from this one is that Erik Bedard settled down very nicely after a rough first inning. He struck out seven in his six innings of work and didn’t allow a run after the first. In general, he looked a lot like the early season Bedard that was so good for the Pirates. Since that guy had been missing for a while, at least we can take that silver lining out of an otherwise disappointing loss.