Pirates Bats Show Up Big in 8-2 Cubs Takedown – Mitch Keller Wins His First

The score, well that felt great. 8-2 and it was a crap call away from 9-2.

As the storm clouds rolled in over PNC Park tonight the Pirates had already faced a bunch of demons on a night where the skyline looked fitting.

Mitch Keller started the game shaky, walking the first man he faced and gave up a ringing double to Kris Bryant to surrender an early 1-0 lead.

He fought through the inning though, and somewhere during the sequence to Anthony Rizzo with Bryant standing at second base, Mitch pushed back. Something clicked, and he started visibly trusting what Jake threw down. The panic in his eyes was replaced by a determination to at least make them beat him by swinging the bat.

It was needed, and importantly it came before the top of the second when the Pirates brought the wood. Batting around and posting a very crooked 7 runs many of which came on clutch two out hits.

Much like it means far more to this ball club that Keller stepped up tonight than had it been Cahill or Kuhl, the bats who came to play tonight were again all the ones you’d like to see with the notable exception of Kevin Newman who didn’t start.

Therapeutic.

That’s what tonight’s ballgame was.

The relief on the faces of hitters as they systematically purged the frustration that had built up over a very tough first week of the season was incredible to see.

None of this means they’ll go on a tear now, but in a season where some players performances matter more than others, this was a treat.

News & Notes

  • It was good to see Mitch Keller put a foot down tonight, and after he got the last out in the 5th he and Shelton exchanged an emotional moment. It felt significant in that pupil finally executed on the lessons that have been taught. Really nice to see and possibly the most important thing that has happened this season for the Pirates.
  • Anthony Alford went 0-4 tonight and continued to be plagued by the strikeout. He struck out with the bases loaded in the 2nd and the club scored 7 runs around him. Even Keller hustled his way out of an inning ending double play to keep the rally alive. Can’t have that. And he’s running out of time.
  • It should be noted, the Cubs bats are possibly worse off than the Pirates.
  • In the 7th Joc Pederson popped a ball to Left field and Reynolds and Evans were both charging the ball. It was like a mirror image of how Evans broke his jaw on Polanco’s elbow last season. Whew.
  • Brian Reynolds has hit ok this season so far, but tonight he looked like the Reynolds we all knew and loved in 2019. 1 for 4 but the at bats look the way he does when he’s seeing the ball and laying off balls that are designed to undercut his swing. Again, BIG development for this team.
  • Colin Moran, ho hum, couple hits, couple walks, man is he in a zone. He’s seeing the ball like few players do. His eye at the plate is tremendous right now.
  • Get back after it tomorrow at 1:05, and I’ll be at this one so shoot me a message if you are too.
  • Phil Evans continues to show the Pirates made the right call keeping him over Todd Frazier. Another 2 hits tonight, one of which went over the wall and a walk. Played some great defense too and man what a blessing to have a guy like that figure it out.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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