When you get to this point in a season slipping into hopelessness is all too easy. Things that looked promising start to look like land mines and part of you gets angry when that guy you want gone does something well.
The future doesn’t always react as you’d like when you bring them into the fold. Sometimes they struggle to grasp the new challenges. Sometimes they discover that stuff they got away with in AAA just won’t fly up here. How long that takes really depends on the player, hell some players perform in MLB far better than they ever did in the minors, the point is individual players have individual paths. Tonight the Pirates would benefit from two of them in a very well played ballgame for the most part.
Mitch Keller, two games out from returning off the IL started off a little wild, walking 2 and hitting a batter in his first 7 faced, then he locked in. At one point setting down 12 straight. His velocity was up around 97 most of the night, something he was not getting to early in the season and when he exited after the 6th he had a no hitter working on 84 pitches. Beautiful work from the young man.
This is only Keller’s 15th start in the big leagues and up until this point he had not put everything together. Some nights his fastball worked but the breaking stuff failed him, others just the opposite. Tonight though, everything was working. Shame he had to come out but the Pirates have been pretty rigid with their build up programs and wise to not risk the young man for momentary glory.
Another youngster who continues to impress is Ke’Bryan Hayes. He’s 17 games into his major league career, so temper your expectations with that very real knowledge, but in the first inning he drilled a homerun to center and then in the sixth he legged out a double. I love what I’m seeing from Hayes and the best thing about what he’s doing is the fact his hits are all over the zone and all over the ballpark. Really impressive stuff, but chill on marking him down as the clean up hitter the next ten years for a moment. This is all wonderful to see but let’s get into his career just a bit because the league will push back at some point.
After Mitch Keller exited the game the Bucs would add on to the Hayes home run and another solo shot by Osuna with two more and they would enter the 7th with Geoff Hartlieb. Here’s how it went, walk, walk, hit by pitch, then they pulled him and replaced him with Sam Howard, Double (2 runs), sac fly (1 more), single (2 more) and he too was pulled for Chris Stratton still with only one out and runners at 2nd and 3rd.
Stratton would walk Goldschmidt to load the bases and face Brad Miller and after going 3-1 he came back to get the strikeout. 2 outs, bases still loaded for DeJong who had already walked in the inning, this time he would fly out to center.
Game swung wildly in that 35 minute top of the 7th. We went from a 4-0 lead and a no hitter to a 5-4 deficit. The Pirates used 3 pitchers to get through the inning and it was ugly.
The top of the 8th would bring another piece of the future to the stage, this time in the form of Blake Cederlind. His characteristic 99MPH was on display and the movement is really something as it tails away from left handers and in to right handers. He made short work of the Cards. This kid is impressive, throwing that hard and hitting your spots with that much movement is rare.
In the bottom of the ninth Stallings led off with a strike out and Kevin Newman was drilled in the knee with a fastball. He looked to be in severe pain, obviously we won’t know for a while but he didn’t even attempt to put weight on it. Adam Frazier would ground into a game ending double play.
Losing an opportunity to toss a no hitter isn’t fun for the player or the fans, but losing Keller the way they lost Brubaker all of last year would be less fun I believe.
Yes, the future shined bright tonight on the North Shore, unfortunately they couldn’t overcome the present company of 2020.
Bucs lose 5-4. Game 5 tomorrow afternoon.
News & Notes
- Geoff Hartlieb continues to regress. In his last three appearances he has struggled with control and has walked 8 in 2 IP with a hit batsman tacked on. As good as he was, he’s that bad now.
- Mitch Keller exited tonight’s ballgame with a 6 inning no hitter going. This was based on his build up plan, and while not fun was the right decision.