A night earlier, Ventura had to pull starter Gavin Floyd after 2 1/3 innings because the Yankees’ formidable lineup got to him early. On Tuesday, starter Francisco Liriano appeared headed toward that same fate.
After one Liriano pitch Tuesday, the Yankees led 1-0 as Derek Jeter jumped on his opening delivery and sent it over the left-field wall. The rest of the inning wasn’t as brutal, but it wasn’t pretty either. Liriano gave up one more hit, walked two, was visited by pitching coach Don Cooper and finally got out of the inning after allowing two runs and making 31 pitches.
Liriano understood as well as anyone if he didn’t emerge a different pitcher in the second inning it was going to be a long night for the White Sox and a bullpen which had already been taxed on Monday.
Liriano came through. He held the Yankees scoreless over the next five innings, giving up just four more hits and did his part in the White Sox’s 7-3 win at U.S. Cellular Field.
“It was touch and go there in the beginning, but this team will make you use a lot of pitches,” said Ventura, whose team remained two games ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central. “I think that’s the one thing. He did battle through it. He got sharper as the game got along. He just got up in pitches, at least got us to a point to where we could go the bullpen and guys came in and did a good job.”
Liriano didn’t fault himself for Jeter’s smash, but he felt the first inning quickly got away from him otherwise.
“First pitch of the game, nothing I can do about that,” Liriano said. “Just tip my hat to him. After that, I think I was trying to overthrow most of the pitches and trying to be too fine, missing my spots, getting behind the count too much.”
Liriano took the pressure off himself in the second inning, and it showed as he retired the side on seven pitches. He completed the inning by striking out Jeter on three pitches. Jeter would also ground out against him in the fourth.
“It was a battle out there tonight,” said Liriano, who had seven strikeouts and threw 108 pitches. “They have a pretty good lineup. It was a good win today. You just want to go out there and give your team a chance to win a ball game. That was what I was trying to do today, not trying to do too much.”
With the win, Liriano improved to 2-0 in five starts for the White Sox since being acquired from the Minnesota Twins. Outside of giving up six runs against the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 11, he hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a start for the White Sox.
Liriano said afterward he was glad to be helping a contender rather than still be in last place with the Twins.
“Winning is a lot better than losing,” Liriano said. “We’re in first place. They brought me out here to help the team to win some ball games. That’s what I’m trying to do. Just be a part of the team and do my job. Hopefully, we can keep playing like that.”