I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little bit excited by the Pirates jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st, however, at that point my mind was pretty much fixated on how Mitch Keller would begin the game. Over his previous three outings he had fluctuated back and forth between bad start, good start and then another bad start; so this had to be a good one right? I wasn’t so sure.
Even so, I had to watch, and was pleasantly surprised as he hit his spots, got reassuring nods from Jacob Stallings and made it through in a quick 1-2-3 inning. In the second he gave up back to back hits, on a double from Niko Goodrum and a triple from the Rule 5 sensation Akil Baddo, to allow the Tigers to pull within one with two outs, but shut the door before they could do anymore damage.
Then in the fifth Keller served up a homer to JaCoby Jones to tie the game, and followed it up immediately with a base hit to Robbie Grossman. In the past these two scenarios were shining examples of when Keller would unravel and let the opposition break the game wide open. In this game he didn’t; by sticking to the plan, trusting his stuff and pounding the bottom of the zone.
Sure Keller, got lucky at times as pitchers often do on some of his hanging sliders and at least one curveball, but he didn’t serve up a bunch of meatballs as Alex Stumpf put it; hopefully with a lot of sarcasm on his part, which is alway hard to read on Twitter.
In the end Keller existed the game, after 5 innings and 80 pitches, without the ability to earn the win. Nevertheless, he did so without allowing a walk and striking out five Detroit batters.
After his exit, the Pirates bullpen did what they have been doing for most of year; shutting down the opposition and giving their team a chance to win the game, or in some cases not allowing it to get out of hand. Over the final four innings Pittsburgh’s relievers didn’t walk a single batter, struck out three and received an unbelievable assist from Phillip Evans in the bottom of the 7th as he prevented Baddoo’s bomb to left from leaving the yard.
With the bats, a few of the Pirates hitters were pretty clutch, including Colin Moran who came through on the go ahead opposite field base knock; immediately followed by a second RBI single from Erik Gonzalez.
To close out the game, the Pirates called on the man without a heartbeat, Richard Rodriguez. He answered with his third save of the season, as Pittsburgh took the third, and final game of the series, 4-2 to pull within one game of .500 (9-10), yet again in this young season.
News and Notes:
- Adam Frazier has reached base safely in 13 straight games, and has been collecting a lot of hits along the way. Including this contest where he was 3 for 5, Frazier has collected 23 hits on the season, good for a .329/.415/.471 slash line.
- Another one of the Pirates who has pretty much done nothing but hit is Erik Gonzalez, as he added two RBIs, for a total of four in the series. Sure he is “just a guy”, but as with any other player he deserves to be in the lineup as long as he is “hot”.
- Richard Rodriguez has a 0.00 ERA in 8 appearances over 8.1 innings; with 8 strikeouts, 1 walk and a .24 WHIP.
- Prior to the game Todd “The Toddfather” Frazier got the call up, as Dustin Fowler was expectedly DFA’d after starting the year batting .171 with 20 strikeouts in 41 at bats. Frazier, in the DH spot, would end up going 0 for 4 on the day, but he did give one a ride to center, only to be robbed of a hit by JaCoby Jones.
- In a twist of fate, or as many like to call it “The Pirates Curse”, Ke’Bryan Hayes will likely spend more time on the IL. While taking swings last night, Hayes re-aggravated his wrist injury, and is on his way to Pittsburgh to be re-evaluated.
- Also Kuhl to the 10 Day IL and Oliva down for 4 weeks. The hits just keep on coming.
The Pirates will continue their road trip tomorrow as they travel to Minnesota to take on the Twins (6-11). For Pittsburgh, JT Brubaker (2-0, 1.76 ERA) will put his foot on the rubber against a familiar face, J.A. Happ (0-0, 3.12 ERA).