Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Francisco Liriano, who was a budding superstar before his career was sidetracked by an elbow injury, made an amazing no-look, between-the-legs catch of a hard one-hop grounder on Friday.
Liriano, who was the American League's rookie of the year in 2006 when he went 12-3 with a 2.16 earned-run average, improved to 8-3 this season by pitching a complete game in a 6-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The great stop by Liriano came when the Cubs' Dioner Navarro led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a hard grounder up the middle. Liriano deftly gets his glove between his legs while his back is turned away from the plate and snags the grounder. He completes the throw to first base for the out.
The play was similar to a catch he made last season with the Chicago White Sox against the Kansas City Royals' Eric Hosmer, when Liriano began to duck away from Hosmer's broken bat flying toward him and snagged a grounder.
Liriano, a 29-year-old from the Dominican Republic, had only two winning seasons -- 6-4 in 2008 and 14-10 in 2010 -- after his rookie year. He missed the entire 2007 season and made only 14 starts in 2008 after injuring his elbow at the end of the 2006 season and undergoing ligament replacement surgery.
The Pirates and Liriano, who now has an ERA of 2.20, are enjoying a resurgence this season. Pittsburgh has the best record in baseball at 53-32.
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