Pittsburgh Pirates: Mitch Keller Struggles Again as Bucs Split Series with Padres

San Diego Padres
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Pittsburgh Pirates
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Following back-to-back wins against the San Diego Padres the Pittsburgh Pirates took a tough on one on the chin in the series finale at PNC Park on Thursday afternoon

Thursday afternoon’s game gout out of hand quickly and the Pittsburgh Pirates were faced with an uphill battle for the rest of the day. The team was not able to overcome a 4-0 hole they found themselves in following the 1st inning.

The pitching was not very good and the bats were fairly silent in an 8-3 loss. With the loss, the Pirates are now 5-8 on the season after splitting their four-game series with the Padres. This puts them at 1-2-1 in series played this season.

Scoring Breakdown

The first 2 innings were where the Padres really inflicted their damage. After a single and a stolen base from Trent Grisham, Jake Cronenworth drove him on a ripping double to deep center field to make it 1-0.

That was followed by a Manny Machado 2-run homer that just barely stayed in fair territory to give the Padres a 3-0 lead. The hits kept coming as Eric Hosmer ripped a double to right and then scored on a Tucupita Marcano double which gave the Padres a 4 run lead before the Pirates even had an at-bat.

After getting two quick outs in the top half of the 2nd inning Mitch Keller would get touched up again by the Friar offense. Jurickson Profar doubled to left, Cronenworth walked, Machado walked and then Hosmer singled in two to make it 6-0.

The Pittsburgh Pirates cracked the scoreboard in their half of the second inning with back-to-back doubles from Colin Moran and Erik González. They had an opportunity to really cut into the deficit with the bases loaded and only one out, but the pitcher Keller struck out and Adam Frazier grounded out to end the threat.

The Padres got that run back in the 4th on a sacrifice fly from Cronenworth that scored Grisham to make it 7-1.

Pittsburgh was able to cut into the deficit in the bottom of the fifth on a blunder by the Padres right fielder Marcano. The Pirates had runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs as Bryan Reynolds sent one out to right. It looked like it would be an inning-ending fly out, but the ball was dropped and it granted the Pirates two runs. They trailed 7-3 and the thought of a potential comeback was still in play.

San Diego answered with a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Machado that scored Profar to make it 8-3. Both offenses would remain fairly silent after that and the 8-3 score would hold up as the final.

Chris Paddack picked up his first win of the season on Thursday afternoon at PNC Park, and Craig Stammen earned a three-inning save. Keller was taxed with the loss for the Pirates.

Keller’s Struggles Continue

After having a reassuring outing against the Cubs last weekend, Mitch Keller saw his struggles arise yet again in his Thursday afternoon start against the San Diego Padres.

Some of the main issues with Keller in his time in the big leagues have been a lack of confidence and issues with location. That trend was extremely evident early and often against the Padres on Thursday.

Keller gave up a single, three doubles, and a homer in the opening frame of the game. That barrage of hits gave the Padres a 4-0 lead that was ultimately enough to earn the victory.

However, the struggles didn’t stop there. Keller gave up another double, two walks, a wild pitch, and a single with the bases loaded to make it 6-0 before being yanked.

It seemed as if the most obvious issue was that he lacked any sort of confidence after just pitching a great game in his last outing. He also struggled to hit his spots after getting ahead in the count, and the Padres made him pay for it.

The Positives

A fairly ugly series-finale sort of hides the fact that this was a very successful opening home stand for the Pittsburgh Pirates. They were able to take two of three from the Cubs and earned a four-game split with one of the league’s best teams. Not to mention that their four wins during the home stand were pretty much all won in blowout fashion.

Anthony Alford and Michael Perez were finally able to get into the column on Thursday afternoon. Alford entered the game 0-19 at the plate with a whopping 15 strikeouts, but was able to produce a single as a pinch hitter in the fifth. Perez also earned a single during his pinch hit appearance in the ninth. It was good to see those guys produce their first hits, and it was even better to see the support they had from their teammates in the dugout.

What’s Next?

The Pittsburgh Pirates will hit the road and head to Milwaukee for a matchup against the division-rival Brewers on Friday night. The pitching matchup will feature JT Brubaker (1.93 ERA, 4.64 FIP) for the Pirates and Adrian Houser (1.80 ERA, 4.84 FIP) for the Brew Crew. First pitch is set for 8:10 PM ET from American Family Field in Milwaukee, and the game can be seen on AT&T Sports Network.