Really? It feels great to have pitched three-hit ball for eight innings and showered without a win? How great can it feel to have a 1.95 ERA and a 1-1 record over five starts?
Those were the questions pondered by Liriano after his latest gem had turned into a 2-1, 11-inning loss to the Cardinals.
In 32 1/3 innings this season, Liriano has allowed 14 hits. Never mind his ERA; his HAA (hits allowed average, per nine innings) is 3.9.
"Nobody pitched better than Liriano," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after 10 St. Louis and Pittsburgh hurlers had tormented the other team's hitters for 3 1/2 hours. "He had command of all of his pitches, especially the fastball. His command was as good as we've ever seen."
Asked what was working while he was holding the Cards hitless through five, Liriano said, "Everything."
"Location-wise, the way I was able to move the fastball in and out, it was better than the last couple of starts," added Liriano, who did walk six in his prior outing in Arizona.
Hurdle then offered one of those stats that sounds as if it came in a videogame: Of the 35 fastballs thrown by Liriano, 29 went for strikes. It is the sort of mastery he has shown consistently, with little to show for it. How does that feel?
Ask A.J. Burnett, Liriano might have suggested. Burnett has a 1.45 ERA, and an 0-1 record.
"Sometimes, you gotta hang with 'em, just keep pitching. It's gonna turn round for us," Liriano said. "I don't think about wins-losses for me, just about giving the team a chance to win."
Some days, baseball is less a game than a test of virtue. Saturday was one of those days. Just looking at developments while Liriano was in the game, his mates were collecting nine hits but were leaving 15 men on base --- eight of them in scoring position. And all that offense was neutralized by one Cardinals infield grounder, which scored the sixth-inning run that got Liriano the no-decision.
"If we keep playing the way we have, it's gonna get better," said Liriano, before adding what should come as wonderful news to a league that as is can't bunch any hits off him.
"I'll try to keep getting better every start."