8-21-21 By Craig W. Toth (aka @bucsbasement on Twitter)
Winners of 7 out of their last 9 games, the St. Louis Cardinals found themselves in a familiar place; in the midst of a hunt for the playoffs, as they sat only a few games outside a Wild Card bid behind the San Diego Padres and the Cincinnati Reds. The Pittsburgh Pirates on the other hand, losers of 14 out of 16, were trending every so close to the number one overall pick for the second year in a row.
Then came Friday night, where in some ways it was almost a familiar scene. The Pirates batters totaled only 4 hits and struck out a total of eight times, while the Cardinals regularly threatened with 10 hits of their own. The only differences this time were that the Pirates hits were timely, resulting in four runs, and the arms for Pittsburgh were able to squash any attack from the Cardinals; with timely strikeouts and a double clutch double play from Castro. Man that kid’s got an arm.
However, the biggest surprise on the night without a doubt was the performance of Mitch Keller. No runs allowed on 6 hits, 6 strike out and only one walk and a career high 10 whiffs on his fastball in 5 innings of work. Sure, I could critique the use of his slider against right handed batters at times, but just for today I will just enjoy a strong outing from Keller.
However, if you are curious as to what I am talking about, see the illustration below.
News and Notes
- Yoshitomo Tsutsugo is one of the more curious acquisitions in Ben Cherington’s time with the Pirates. Even bringing in Tom, Nogowski, Alford and Fowler made more sense on the surface; not that I totally agreed with all of them, but at least I saw the method behind the madness. Guys with control, and if they “worked out”, could provide some consistency in the lineup beyond just this year. Now you have Yoshitomo. Still somewhat tied to the two year deal he signed with the Rays before the 2020 season and set to become a free agent at the end of the year. Sure the Pirates could resign him, but only if he performs. Only, whose to say he isn’t snatched up by someone willing to pay a little more for his services. On a lighter note, Yoshi hit his first homer of the season last night.
- The Pirates Bullpen (Underwood, Jr., Bednar and Stratton) held it together to provide 4 innings of scoreless ball to match Keller. Duane Underwood, Jr. who had been on my “short” DFA list at one point, has posted a .68 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in his last 7 appearances over 13.1 innings. David Bednar has continued to impress, coming into a game for the 51st time this season. I can’t say many expected that when he came over in the Musgrove deal. Chris Stratton has been fine, but is now where near as dominant as he was in June and July.
- Harrison Bader did his best Bryan Reynolds impression, with two highlight reel catches in a row; however, he got caught in between on a Jacob Stallings single to center, which put the Cheetah on third after a two base error. But, seriously Bader is solid in CF with a 7 OAA to Reynolds’ 10.
- Gregory Polanco had two sacrifice flies, so there’s that.
- The MLB Pipeline updated Top 100 and team’s top 30s are now out. Go check them out if that’s your thing. https://www.mlb.com/app/atbat/prospects/pirates. It happens to be one of my things, so I did.
The Buccos and Red Birds are back at it tonight at 7:15 PM EST from Busch Stadium.
For Pittsburgh, Dillon Peters, aka Dillypicklez, (0-1, 1.93 ERA) looks to duplicate his Pirates Debut, while Pirate Killer J.A. Happ (7-6, 6.03 ERA) is on a mission to put up his third win of the year against your Buccos.