After allowing three hard hits in a row, Francisco Liriano settled down and was dominant in Monday’s rehab appearance with Triple-A Indianapolis.
In six shutout innings, Liriano allowed just three hits, while striking out eight, including six of the last seven to finish the outing. He also did not walk a batter.
“Everything felt good,” Liriano said. “It is really good to be back.”
His fastball was sitting between 93-95, while his slider and changeup were between 85-86. Liriano allowed three hard hit balls in a row after retiring the first two hitters easily. A line drive single was followed by a double to each gap. On the first double, the base runner was thrown out at the plate to end the first inning.
Much of the negative result was due to Liriano elevating the fastball early in the outing. Though the ball did stay elevated in those first two innings, he was very pitch efficient.
“The last time out was simulated and this time out was real hitters,” Indianapolis pitching coach Tom Filer said. “It got his adrenaline flowing a little bit and inactivity kind of led to some pitches up in the zone.”
Liriano was set to throw either 85 pitches or six innings. He made it to the latter, throwing 76 pitches and 53 strikes.
“I was working on throwing more fastballs and working with the fastball,” Liriano said. “In the second, I started working on other pitches. The changeup and the slider were working good.”
After the three hits, Liriano settled down and retired 15 hitters in a row after the first hitter in the second. However, the first two batters in the fourth each coaxed at least a 2-0 count, with the leadoff hitter getting to 3-0. The final hitter of the fourth, he struck out on three pitches. This was the first of the run of strikeouts.
Catcher Tony Sanchez was impressed with how quickly Liriano was able to get into a flow.
“You usually don’t see a guy settle into a game that early, but Frankie did that and that’s why he’s one of the best,” Sanchez said. “His fastball commanded both side of the plate extremely well. That’s the most movement I’ve seen on his changeup in the past two years that I’ve caught him.”
Other than the strikeouts, Liriano forced four fly ball outs with three ground ball outs.