Coming into today’s game, the Pittsburgh Pirates (23-37) had lost 12 straight matchups against the Los Angeles Dodgers and 19 of their last 21. The Pirates looked to avoid the series sweep this afternoon but fell short, losing today’s game 6-3
Mitch Keller (6.65 ERA, 4.56 FIP) started today’s game after dealing with a heat illness that forced him to exit his last start against Miami after just 2 innings. For the Pittsburgh Pirates it was more of the same and his struggles continued this afternoon. Keller exited today’s game after just 2.2 innings, giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks, while also hitting 2 batters. He struck out 3 but through just 2.2 innings, Keller threw 72 pitches, only 41 of them for strikes.
Keller pitched to a 1-1 record with a 2.91 ERA in the shortened 2020 season and gave Pirate fans some hope in terms of ‘what could be’ but thus far in 2021 Keller has looked like his 2019-self. The right-hander made 11 starts in 2019 and posted an ERA of 7.13 through 48 innings of work. Keller’s ERA now sits at 7.04 through his first 12 starts (46 innings) and is now 3-7 in 2021. He’ll look to straighten things out over the next few days before his next start, likely on the road in Washington against the Nationals.
The Pittsburgh Pirates took on the 24-year-old lefty Julio Urías this afternoon, making his 12th start of the year. Urías (3.48 ERA, 3.13 FIP) led Major League Baseball in wins with 8 coming into today’s matchup and was able to pick up #9 after allowing 3 runs on 6 hits through 6 innings of work today. He struck out 5.
In the top of the first inning, Dodgers’ leadoff man and 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts homered on a 2-0 pitch to give Los Angeles an early 1-0 lead.
Keller never settled in this afternoon but did work out of some trouble in the top of the 2nd inning to keep the deficit at one run. Keller struck out the leadoff man but then allowed a single followed by a walk before Urías sacrificed the two runners to 2nd and 3rd. He then walked Betts before inducing a flyout from Max Muncy to end the threat. Through just two innings, however, Mitch Keller’s pitch count was already at 42.
In the bottom half of the 2nd inning, Phillip Evans singled before Erik González doubled to right to tie the game at 1. It appeared as though the Pirates were setting themselves up for a big inning however Ka’ai Tom flew out to Betts in right who then turned and made an incredible throw home to double up González at the plate. Kevin Newman followed and struck out to end the inning with the game tied at 1.
Keller’s Struggles Continue
In the top of the 3rd inning, Keller hit Justin Turner and allowed a single to Cody Bellinger to put runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs to begin the inning. He then hit Matt Beaty to load the bases before Zach McKinstry hit a sacrifice fly to center to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
After Gavin Lux grounded into a fielder’s choice to first, Austin Barnes was intentionally walked to bring up the pitcher’s spot. With the bases loaded however, Julio Urías lined a pitch right-center to score Bellinger and Lux and that was the end of the day for Mitch Keller. Manager Derek Shelton made the call to the pen and Chris Stratton was brought on after just 2.2 innings of work from Keller. Stratton struck out Betts to end the inning with the Dodgers up 4-1.
The Battlin’ Bucs battled back in the bottom half of the 3rd as Adam Frazier doubled to right with one out to get the inning started. Ke’Bryan Hayes then grounded a pitch back to Urías who caught Frazier in a rundown between 2nd and 3rd and the Dodgers were able to tag him out for the second out of the inning. With Hayes still at first, Bryan Reynolds homered to left to cut the deficit to one run. Jacob Stallings struck out to end the inning but the Pirates were able to chip away in the bottom of the 3rd to make it a 4-3 game.
After Keller’s early departure in the 3rd, the bullpen was solid at first as Stratton picked up an out in the 4th before being relieved by Chasen Shreve who threw 1.2 innings of scoreless ball. Duane Underwood Jr. came on for the Pirates in the top of the 6th inning and after walking the leadoff man, he then struck out Urías, induced a pop-up from Betts and a ground ball from Muncy to end the inning.
Underwood Jr. remained in the game in the 7th but after Justin Turner lined out to center, he ran into some trouble. Bellinger and Beaty both singled to left to put runners at first and third with one out before McKinstry reached via an infield single to score Bellinger and advance Beaty to second. Underwood Jr. walked Gavin Lux to load the bases with one out before David Bednar was called upon out of the bullpen to face Austin Barnes with the Dodgers leading 5-3. Barnes softly hit a come-backer to the right of the mound which Bednar played perfectly in order to get the lead runner in Beaty out at the plate.
With two outs Bednar then struck out Chris Taylor on three pitches to leave the bases loaded and the deficit at two. Bednar continues to throw well out of the pen and also continues to display his potential to be the Pirates’ future closer.
The Pirates were unable to do any damage in the bottom of the 7th and it was Kyle Crick’s turn to take the mound in the top of the 8th. Betts picked up his second hit of the day via an infield single and Muncy walked to put runners at first and second with nobody out. After Betts stole third base, Turner singled to center to give the Dodgers a 6-3 lead with one out in the 8th. Bellinger then fouled out to third before Albert Pujols was called upon to pinch-hit but after three pitches, the grounds crew brought out the tarp as the rain in Pittsburgh was coming down hard around 3:30 PM ET.
Around 4:45 PM ET the game was called due to the rain and the Pirates have now fallen to 23-38 on the season after being swept by Los Angeles in this 3-game series. The Pirates will look to end their current 13-game losing streak against the Dodgers in August.
The Pittsburgh Pirates (23-38) will travel to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers (35-27) in a 3-game weekend series beginning tomorrow night at 8:10 PM ET. Chase De Jong (5.40 ERA, 5.95 FIP) will make his third start in a Pirate uniform against Brandon Woodruff (1.42 ERA, 2.20 FIP).