ST. LOUIS -- In the Pirates' first two cracks at a seminal 82nd win to secure their first winning season in 21, co-aces Francisco Liriano and A.J. Burnett each lasted only three innings.
Bad timing for really bad starts, adding up to a bad sign? Or just parallel examples of the vagaries of any baseball season?
Voting for the latter, manager Clint Hurdle is already anticipating the tandem's next appearances. They will come in doubly hostile territory, Rangers Ballpark against Texas in a late-season Interleague series.
"I'm looking forward to seeing them pitch again," Hurdle said. "Those guys are good pitchers, and they take us to a good place when they're on the mound. They've shown the resiliency to bounce back."
Liriano has shown a particular knack for following his worst starts with his best. The left-hander had two mishaps prior to the most recent on Wednesday in Milwaukee, and he recovered from those two -- on Aug. 9 and 24 -- with follow ups in which he totaled 17 innings and allowed six hits and one run.
"I'm not changing what I did before," Liriano said. "Time to get ready for the next start, forget what happened in the last one and move forward."
"Numbers-wise, both guys are still really solid," Hurdle said. "Does the league catch up to you? It can -- but it doesn't have to."
There is also this: Both ex-American Leaguers have good track records in the Rangers' park; Liriano is 3-1 and has given up one homer in 31 2/3 innings there, while Burnett is 2-1, with a slightly higher (4.00) ERA.
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.