It may not have the prettiest outing at times, but Mitch Keller was able to limit the number of Cardinals base runners and get the tough outs when needed in order to help the Pirates win their first game of the season. From the beginning it was fairly evident that he did not have his normal control and velocity, which had produced 12.19 K/9 last season. However, at no time did Keller look uncomfortable on the mound, which is something he struggled with during all of previously 11 starts. In the end he lasted 5 innings, allowing one run on five hits, while striking out two and walking three. His only earned run came on a defensive mishap in third inning, where he did not cover 1st base quick enough to get the speedy Tommy Edman; allowing Kolton Wong to score.,
On the offensive side for the Pirates, both Colin Moran and Jose Osuna continued their hot starts to the season. Moran got the Pirates on the board in 4th inning with a home run off of Cardinal’s starter, Dakota Hudson. Osuna gave the Buccos their first lead of the season two batters later as he crushed a home run on a ball inside, scoring Phillip Evans who had singled. The Pirates would add to their lead on a Josh Bell sacrifice fly in the 5th and a Phillip Evans double in the 8th; Evan’s third hit of the game and 1st RBI of the season.
After Keller exited the game it was time for the Major League Debut of Pirates former top prospect, JT Brubaker, who had missed the majority of last season in AAA with a right forearm strain. Brubaker made quick work of the first two Cardinals batters before allowing a sharply hit single to Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt was thrown out by Reynolds at second as he tried to stretch it into a double, ending Brubaker’s first professional inning of work. He would go on to strike out two more batters and allow two more sharply hit balls before getting Tyler O’Neil to fly out to end the 7th inning. His slider was on point as he produced five swinging and two called strikes on eleven pitches and his two seam fastball was almost as reliable.
Michael Feliz followed with an reasonably efficient 18 pitch 1-2-3 bottom of the 8th. Then came the highly anticipated first appearance of the season by Nick Burdi to close out the game. He didn’t disappoint as he struck out all three Cardinals batters swinging to retire the side and preserve the Pirates first win of the season, 5-1.
There continue to some disappointments and concerns for the Pirates in this young 2020 season, however it was definitely nice to Raise The Jolly Roger for the first time this year, avoiding the sweep as they head home to take on the Milwaukee Brewers tomorrow, with Steven Brault taking the mound; which could be our first look at the “piggyback”.