The Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off their three-game weekend series in Tampa Bay by getting walked off by the Rays
After taking three of four from the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off a three-game weekend series at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night. While the Pirates were able to battle back from an early 3-0 hole, they were unable to defeat the Rays.
Following a 4-3 walk off loss against the Rays in 10 innings on Friday night, the Pirates are now 29-41 on the season. Hopefully, they will be able to rally this weekend to take the final two games of the series to secure a series victory.
Poor 2nd inning sours Mitch Keller’s start
Entering Friday night’s start Mitch Keller had been on a great roll for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Well there was once again plenty of good that came out of Friday night’s start for Keller, a poor 2nd inning proved to sour the start.
Keller was burnt on two weakly hit, but perfectly placed ground balls in the 2nd inning. One of which was also assisted by being hit away from the shift. However, he also issued a noncompetitive walk and was called for a balk with a runner on third base.
To Keller’s credit though, he did not allow things to completely snowball in the 2nd inning. The Rays had runners on the corners, no one out and 2 runs already in, when Keller put a foot down and issued back-to-back strikeouts. However, in between the strikeouts he was called for a balk that allowed the runner on third to score. Keller then got the final out of the inning to limit the damage. There were plenty of instances in the past where Keller would have allowed things to completely unravel in that situation. Him preventing that was another sign of growth.
Overall, Keller allowed 3 runs on 5 hits, a walk and 5 strikeouts in 5 innings pitched. Keller generated 8 swings-and-misses, and his sinker consistently sat in the mid-to-high 90s. Keller now has a 2.99 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 33.1 innings pitched across his last 7 outings, 5 of which have been starts. We’ll say it again… maybe, just maybe, Keller is finally starting to figure it out.
Solo home runs power the Pirate offense
Offensively, it was a night of solo home runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Michael Chavis hit a solo home run in the 4th inning, his 8th home run of the season cut the Tampa Bay lead to 3-1. The follow batter was Diego Castillo, who hit a solo home run of his own. Castillo’s 6th long ball of the season pulled the Pirates within a run at 3-2.
Then in the 5th inning it was Hoy Park‘s turn. His solo shot, the 2nd home run he has hit this season, tied the game at 3. To the credit of both Castillo and Park they looked like hitters who know their roster spots could be in jeopardy in the coming days as players begin to return from the injured list.
Pirate bullpen has a strong night
Even though the bullpen technically took the loss, it was a strong night for the Pirate bullpen. When Keller’s night ended Cam Vieaux was the first reliever that Derek Shelton called upon. Vieaux struck out a pair while pitching a 1-2-3 6th inning.
Chris Stratton was next up. Stratton pitched the 7th inning and got the first two outs of the 8th inning. Anthony Banda then got the final out of the 8th inning and pitched a scoreless 9th inning to send the game to extra inning.
Yerry De Los Santos was summoned for the 10th inning. With a runner on second base due to that ridiculous rule, De Los Santos got a pop out on the infield to start the inning. The Rays then stole third base before a weekly hit ground ball by former Pirate farmhand Harry Ramirez snuck through the infield for a walk off hit.
It was a brutal loss for De Los Santos to take, as well as a fine example of why pitcher’s win/loss record is a terrible stat. On the season De Los Santos owns a 2.89 ERA, 7.6% walk rate and a 30.8% strikeout rate. It’s safe to say he’ll be just fine.
Pirates waste golden opportunity in the 10th
Tyler Heineman was the Pirate runner on second base to start the 10th inning. He moved to third base when Park reached on an infield hit to start the inning. With runners on the corners and no one out it appeared the Pirates were in prime position to strike.
Unfortunately, this would not be the case. Jack Suwinski followed Park’s infield hit by striking out. Bryan Reynolds then popped out in foul territory. After Park stole second base, Chavis struck out to end the inning.
The Pittsburgh Pirates should have scored a run in the top of the 10th inning. All they needed to do so was a fly ball to the outfield. But after three poor at-bats the Pirates failed to do so and this played a big role in their loss.
JT Brubaker (4.11 ERA, 4.30 FIP) will look to continue his strong surge since mid-April when he toes the rubber for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday afternoon. Former Cy Young winner Corey Kluber (3.46 ERA, 3.61 FIP) will start for the Rays. First pitch from The Trop is scheduled for 1:10 PM ET.