Mitch Keller Struggles Again As Pittsburgh Pirates Lose To The San Francisco Giants
By Marty Leap
The Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants played the second game of their four-game series from Oracle Park on Tuesday night
Following a 4-run 9th inning rally sparked a 6-4 victory on Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates entered Tuesday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants in search of their second victory in as many games by the bay. Unfortunately, the Pirates would come up short in their quest.
Following a 5-4 defeat at the hands of the Giants, the Pirates are now 19-37 since the All-Star Break. This loss puts their overall record on the season at 63-82, officially clinching their fourth losing record in the last five seasons.
Long time Pirate nemesis Johnny Cueto made the start for the Giants on Tuesday night. Due to Tommy John Surgery, this was Cueto’s first start since July 28th, 2018. Cueto would retire the Pirates in order in the top half of the 1st inning, setting the stage for the Giants to grab an early lead.
The Giants collected a single and double off of Mitch Keller to start the inning. After Keller struck out Evan Longoria, he allowed a 2-run single to Stephen Voght. Keller then allowed back-to-back singles to Kevin Pillar and Brandon Crawford, making the score 3-0 San Fran. Keller was able to induce a 6-4-3 double play to end the bleeding.
In his return to the mound Cueto did what he has done so often in his career and shut the Pirates down. Cueto allowed just one hit, issued one walk, and struck out four batters in 5 scoreless innings of work. The Giants could not be happier about Cueto’s return to the mound.
After his rough 1st inning Keller started to settle down. However, with two outs in the 5th inning he allowed a 2-run blast to Voght. This home run, which nearly made it to McCovey Cove, made the score 5-0 Giants.
The frustrating start to Keller’s MLB career continued on Tuesday night. As has been the case for him this season at times on Tuesday night he looked dominate, at other times he struggled mightily. All in all he was charged with 5 runs on nine hits, a home runs, zero walks, and seven strikeouts in 5 innings of work.
Keller undoubtedly has the talent and pure stuff to be a top of the rotation starting pitcher. That said, he needs to find more consistency. Hopefully, Keller can begin to find said consistency in his final two or three starts of the season. If the Pirates are going to have any chance of contending in 2020, especially with Jameson Taillon set to miss the season, they need Keller to emerge as a top of the rotation arm.
Bruce Bochy summoned Kyle Barraclough from the Giant bullpen in the 6th inning. After he allowed a pinch hit single to Cole Tucker and walked Kevin Newman, he was replaced by lefty Andrew Suarez who was greeted by a Bryan Reynolds single. The Reynolds base hit loaded the bases with no one out.
Throughout the season the Pirates v. loaded bases has been the biggest rivalry in baseball. As has been the case most of the season, the team’s struggles with the bases loaded continue. After Suarez got Colin Moran to pop out on the infield, he induced an inning ending 5-4-3 double play ball off the bat of Josh Bell.
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Despite loading the bases with no one out in the 6th inning, the Pirates were unable to score and still found themselves trailing 5-0.
With Keller’s night over, Clay Holmes took over on the mound for the Pirates. Holmes retired six of the seven batters he faced while recording a strikeout in 2 scoreless innings of work. The lone base runner Holmes allowed reached via error.
In the 8th inning the Pirate offense would finally strike.
After back-to-back two out singles from Newman and Reynolds, lefty Wandy Peralta entered the game for the Giants. Pinch hitting for Moran, Melky Cabrera hit a slow rolling double down the first base line that plated both Newman and Reynolds to cut the Giants lead to 5-2. Bell then hit a 111.6 MPH missile into the left field seats off of Peralta. Bell’s 37th home run of the season cut the San Francisco lead to 5-4, and brought Peralta’s night to an end.
To Clint Hurdle‘s credit, when the Pirates cut the San Francisco lead to 1 run he got Francisco Liriano up in the bullpen. With the Pirates trailing 5-4, Hurdle went with one of his best relievers in the bottom of the 8th in an effort to keep the deficit at 1. The move paid off as Liriano fired a 1-2-3 inning, sending the game to the 9th with the Bucs down a run.
In the 9th inning, the Pirates faced Shaun Anderson as they searched for a run to tie the game. With one out in the inning Jacob Stallings drew a walk to put the tying run on base where he was replaced by pinch runner Starling Marte. Anderson would bounce back to strikeout Kevin Kramer and Pablo Reyes to close out the 5-4 Giants victory.
The third game of the this four-game set is scheduled for 9:45 on Wednesday night. Dario Agrazal (4.94 ERA, 6.21 FIP) will make his 13th career start for the Pirates. Meanwhile, the Giants will send rookie righty Logan Webb (6.50 ERA, 4.55 FIP) to the mound for his 5th career start.