Facing the best team in baseball the Pittsburgh Pirates failed to secure a sweep of their two-game series
Following a thrilling 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees in fort of sold out PNC Park on Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates had to wait out a 1 hour and 10 minute rain delay before playing baseball on Wednesday night. When the rain delay ended the Pirates failed to repeated the performance of Tuesday night in a 16-0 loss.
With the loss, the Pirates fell to 33-48 on the season. They will finish this six-game home stand with a record of 3-3. Even though failing to capitalize on their opportunity to sweep the Yankees was disappointing, the Pirates still split a series with a team on pace to set a MLB record for wins in a single season. Things could have certainly gone worse.
Both teams waste golden early opportunities
Ke’Bryan Hayes singled to start the bottom of the 1st and Bryan Reynolds singled. This gave the Pittsburgh Pirates runners on second and third with no one out, putting them in position to quickly post a crooked number.
Yankee starter Luis Severino then put a foot down. Jack Suwinski popped up on the infield, Daniel Vogelbach struck out looking and Yoshi Tsutsugo grounded out. Just like that, the Pirates wasted their golden opportunity.
The top half of the 2nd inning saw the Yankees have a similarly golden opportunity. With runners on the corners and no one out Joey Gallo stepped to the plate. Gallo would continue his season long struggles by chasing a rising Mitch Keller fastball to strikeout. On the very next pitch Keller got Isiah Kiner-Falefa to hit into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play.
Just like that, both teams wasted away golden opportunities to put up an early crooked number.
5th and 6th innings burn Mitch Keller
Dating back to mid-May righty Mitch Keller has continued to have one strong outing after another for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wednesday night Keller was on the brink of doing it again, but things came unglued toward the end.
Gallo led off the inning for the Yankees and Keller got ahead in the count 1-2. Keller would then lose Gallow, however, issuing a lead off walk. With Gallo moving both Oneil Cruz and Josh VanMeter covered second base which allowed Kiner-Falefa to bounce a ball through the left side of the infield.
Had the Yankees not had the hit-and-run on Kiner-Falefa’s ball would have been hit right at Cruz for a 6-4-3 double play. With better commutation between Cruz and VanMeter, Cruz may have still been able to get to the ball to get an out. He damn near did as was, with a slight slip when he attempted to plant his feet and switch directions costing him.
After Keller struck out Kyle Higashioka it appeared he may be able to pull his second Houdini Act of the game, but after Kiner-Falefa stole second base on the strikeout a D.J. LeMahieu single plated a pair of runs making it 2-0 Yankees.
After the LeMahieu single, Keller and the Pirate defense took over. Aaron Judge would double off the Clemente Wall, but Ben Gamel did a terrific job of getting the ball in to nail LeMahieu at the plate. Keller then struck out Matt Carpenter to end the inning.
With the aide of a tremendous defensive play by Cruz, Keller retired the first two batters of the 6th inning. He then allowed back-to-back solo home runs with two outs in the inning to Josh Donaldson and Gallo.
Both home runs Keller allowed came on terrible pitches where he missed his spot. He hung a breaking ball to Donaldson and threw a pitch to Gallo middle-middle. Entering the night Gallo was one of the worst hitters in baseball, but Wednesday night he drew a leadoff walk to spark a 2-run inning and launched a home run. That simply can not happen.
All told, Keller allowed 4 runs in 6 innings pitched. He allowed 10 hits (not good!), 2 home runs, walked a batter and struck out 7. Keller failing to finish the start strong really was disheartening as for much of the start he appeared to be locked in. Despite the late struggles he still generated 13 swings-and-misses, including 7 off of his four-seamed fastball which looked the best it has all season.
Pirate bullpen takes its lumps
It was a rough night for the Pirate bullpen.
Tyler Beede was first up. Beede pitched an inning, allowing a solo home run on a hit, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. Manny Bañuelso then made his Pirate debut and got shelled. Bañuelso allowed 5 runs on 3 hits, 2 walks a home run and a strikeout in 1/3 of an inning pitched.
After Bañueols it was time for Chris Stratton. Stratton walked a pair while recording a pair of outs. In a position player pitching situation, VanMeter pitched the 9th. VanMeter allowed 6 runs on 8 hits, 2 home runs and a walk in his inning pitched.
Next up for the Pittsburgh Pirates is a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark on Thursday. Game one is scheduled for 2:10 PM ET and will feature a pitching matchup of Roansy Contreras (4.09 ERA, 5.09 FIP) and the struggling Mike Minor (6.82 ERA, 7.35 FIP). Bryse Wilson (7.49 ERA, 5.28 FIP) is scheduled to start game two while the Reds have yet to announce a starter, first pitch for the night cap is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.