9/15 Sunday starter
The Cubs know Francisco Liriano only too well. The lefty is 3-1 in four career starts against the Cubs, and 3-0 in three games this year. On July 5, he threw his second complete game, beating Jeff Samardzija at Wrigley Field.
“He’s another guy who you’re not going to string a lot of hits together,” Dale Sveum said of Liriano. “You’ve got to be patient and hope you get a couple walks and hits and somebody pops a two-run double or something like that. That’s how you score against these guys when they’re on a roll. The kind of guy he is with that velocity, he almost pitches like CC Sabathia and pitches off his offspeed stuff, but with obviously really good velocity to go with it.”
Do the Cubs have any kind of edge having faced him so much this year?
“There’s always an edge to know if you can be patient and make him get the ball up,” Sveum said. “But his slider is so hard and he keeps it down and back foots you. It looks like a fastball coming out. Both his changeup and slider look like strikes and they end up balls.”
Liriano is vying for his 17th win. He would be the first Pirates lefty to win more than 16 games since John Smiley was 20-8 in 1991. Liriano also is 10 strikeouts away from 1,000 in his career.
— Carrie Muskat