After two disappointing loses for the Pirates, they came into the game this afternoon looking to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Kansas City Royals. Pittsburgh starter Chad Kuhl was also aiming to bounce back from two fairly lackluster performances in a row; combining for five earned runs, eight strikeouts and six walks in seven total innings of work. Opposing him on a seasonably cooler day at Kauffman Park was the big young right handed hurler, Brad Keller. Contrary to what you might expect from a 6’5” 250 lb. man, Keller does rely on overpowering pitches; instead he lives on ground balls and soft contact. In his six starts so far this year he has accumulated only 24 strikeouts in 34.2 innings, but also did not allow a single extra base hit through the first 28 innings. Based on this information, along with his 2.60 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, I fully anticipated him giving Pirates batters fits all afternoon.
The first inning was a complete and utter fiasco for both Kuhl and Pirates as a whole; a few walks, a couple hits and a wild pitch equaled a 4-0 lead for the Royals before Pittsburgh Fans had any time to sit down to enjoy some Sunday afternoon baseball. After an inning and a half to catch our collective breaths the onslaught began again. Salvador Perez started second round of scoring with a solo home run to straight away centerfield. Kuhl followed this up by giving up a single, hitting a batter and walking the next to load the bases. After a mound visit he was able to set Kelvin Guitierrez down on strikes, but immediately walked the next batter; bringing an end to his day, but not to the bleeding for the Pirates.
Nick Tropeano, who had been a reliable option in his first four appearances for Pittsburgh, walked the first batter he faced; forcing in another run. He then gave up a single, which brought in two more runs. After only two Royals faced, Tropeano had allowed all three of his inherited base runners to score; resulting in a final line of 9 earned runs on 4 hits and 6 free passes, with 5 strikeouts on 70 pitches for Kuhl in only 2.1 innings. Tropeano would eventually work his way out of the inning, but not before giving up the 10th run of the game for Kansas City on a single by Perez, who had led of the same inning with a homer.
Dovydas Neverauskas was the next pitcher out of the Pirates bullpen and almost immediately gave up his customary home run to put the Royals up 11-0. Fortunately this would be the last run the Pirates would surrender to Royals on the afternoon.
To this point I hadn’t even thought about how I was going to describe Brad Keller’s performance against the Pirates batters because it went exactly the way I had expected and actually predicted it to go; aside from the John Ryan Murphy double in the top of the 6th. Keller gave the Pittsburgh batters fits all afternoon. In only the second complete game of his career Keller spread out five hits, walked only one and struck out two on 110 pitches.
After being swept by the Royals, the Pirates don’t have much time to stop and think as they have a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds scheduled tomorrow, beginning at 4:10 PM at Great American Ball Park. It has been reported that Mitch Keller will start one of the two games, so after a rough weekend In Kansas City there is at least something to look forward to.
News and Notes:
- Hayes is going to get his days off and we have to be OK with that. He wasn’t able to participate in a regular Minor League Season, most Sim Games in Altoona were around 4 or 5 innings and he was not able to report to the alternate site on time due to COVID. However, we shouldn’t have to deal with JT Riddle being run out there in his place.
- After a promising start to his return, Chad Kuhl has now had three rough outings in a row.
- Moran did get 2 of the 5 hits, so there’s that.
- At the beginning of the series I talked about both Kansas City and Pittsburgh being in some part of a build/rebuild. Based on this past weekend, the Royals are obviously ahead of the Pirates in the process; if that wasn’t abundantly clear before.