The Pittsburgh Pirates returned home from a poor road stand on Tuesday night… and things did not go much better
After winning their first three games post-trade deadline, the Pittsburgh Pirates have hit a major rut. They followed this three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers with a frustrating 2-8 road trip.
Tuesday night the Pittsburgh Pirates returned home to kickoff a nine-game homestand with game one of a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox. Unfortunately, the woes from the road trip continued as the Pirates suffered a 5-3 loss. With the loss, they are now a miserable 45-71 on the season which puts them on pace for 99 losses.
Rough night for Mitch Keller
Dating back to mid-May, Mitch Keller has pitched as well as any pitcher in the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation. Tuesday night, however, Keller had a rough night on the PNC Park mound on his way to his worst start in quite some time.
The 1st inning was a rough one for Keller. He allowed 4 runs on four hits, two walks and no strikeouts in the inning. Keller allowed an unearned run in the 2nd inning due to an error by Bryan Reynolds. All told, Keller lasted just 2 innings allowing 5 runs, 4 earned, on five hits, three walks and just one strikeout.
Keller lasted just 2 innings due to right shoulder fatigue. Throughout his start his velocity was way down which could indicate the shoulder fatigue being a serious issue. Prior to Tuesday night Keller had posted a 3.28 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 8.0% walk rate and a 19.3% strikeout rate in 79.2 innings pitched across his last 15 outings. Hopefully the shoulder fatigue will not cause any long-term issues.
Bullpen steps up
To the credit of the Pirate bullpen, they stepped up in a big way. Chase De Jong led the charge, pitching 4 scoreless, hitless innings of relief. He also walked a batter and recorded a strikeout on his way to lowering his ERA/FIP on the season to 2.33/4.47 in 46.1 innings pitched.
Austin Brice followed De Jong. The career journeyman, who has pitched for the Red Sox the past two seasons, faed six batters, retiring all six while recording a strikeout. Manny Bañuelos struck out all three Boston batters he faced in the 9th inning as he continues his excellent work since joining the Pirates.
De Jong’s work can not be overstated. He did a tremendous job of eating innings for the Pirates and helping to ease the workload on the rest of the bullpen. Wrecking a bullpen in game one of a nine games in nine days stretch could create a major headache and lead to multiple roster moves in the next week and a half, thanks to De Jong’s work that will not be an issue.
8th inning leads to only Pirate runs… but it was not a stellar inning for Derek Shelton
Entering the 8th inning the only base hit for the Pittsburgh Pirates was a 1st inning single by Ben Gamel. With the Pirates trailing 5-0 and sitting on just a single base hit things looked bleak for the Pirates.
With one out in the inning Jason Delay single and Tucupita Marcano walked. After Kevin Newman bloomed a single into shallow left field, the Pirates had the bases loaded with just one out and Bryan Reynolds at the plate.
Reynolds would strikeout looking on a pitch that barely caught the strike zone, and immediately explode about the call. This came after Reynolds struck out look in his previous bat as well on a terrible strike three call.
As a result of his 8th inning explosion Reynolds was quickly ejected. Did manager Derek Shelton come out to protect his player? Not just any player but his best player? Well… not really. Shelton was in zero hurry to get out onto the field and showed no urgency whatsoever, not did he show any urgency or upsetness when having what looked like a very civil conversation with home plate umpire Roberto Ortiz. Embarrassing and pathetic by Shelton.
This was not the end of a brutal 8th inning for Shelton. After Gamel doubled to cut the Boston lead to 5-3, Shelton continued to make sure Little League Rules applied to Josh VanMeter and got him his daily at-bat. Representing the tying run, VanMeter hit a lazy fly ball to end the inning. VanMeter is not hitting for a scorching .188/.271/.294 slash line this season.
Shelton should be fired.
Roansy Contreras (3.78 ERA, 4.89 FIP) will re-join the Pirate rotation for game two of this series. Veteran lefty Rich Hill (4.75 ERA, 4.31 FIP) is scheduled to start for the Red Sox. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled fro 7:05 PM ET.