Mitch Keller pitched 6 shutout innings, Rodolfo Castro hits his 6th home run of the season, and Oneil Cruz continues to murder baseballs as the Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the New York Mets 8-2
While there will be no postseason play for the Pittsburgh Pirates this October, they could have a big say in who wins the National League East. After a rainout on Monday, the Pirates kicked off a three-game series at PNC Park against the New York Mets on Tuesday night.
Tuesday night’s game was the first of seven against the Mets this month. With the Mets battling the Atlanta Braves for the NL East pennant, the Pirates could play a big role in if the Mets can hold off the surging Braves or not.
Well, thus far, the Pirates are helping out the Braves as they downed the Mets 8-2 on Tuesday night. This win puts the Braves, who will play the lowly Oakland A’s late Tuesday night, in position to pull even with the Mets in the division standings with a victory. The victory also improved the Pirates to 50-84 on the season.
Mitch Keller keeps the Mets off the board
As he continues to put together the strongest season of his MLB career, Mitch Keller turned in another strong start on Tuesday night. Over the course of 6 innings Keller kept a strong Met lineup off the board.
Keller allowed five hits, he walked a pair, hit a batter, and struck out two in his 6 scoreless innings pitched. While Keller pitched 6 scoreless innings it did not come easy for him. Keller retired the Mets in order in his 6th and final inning of work, but he allowed at least one base runner in each of his other 5 innings of work. Keller generated just seven swings-and-misses, but keep the ball on the ground aided him. This included inducing a pair of double play balls.
Keller was also able to find success with each pitch. He recorded four outs each with his four-seamed fastball, sinker, and slider, while his curveball and changeup each generated a pair of outs for the righty.
On the season Keller now owns a 4.22 ERA and a 3.93 FIP. He’s walked 8.5% of batters faced, struck out 19.2%, and has allowed just 12 home runs (0.83 HR/9) in a career high 130 innings pitched.
In mid-May Keller was taken out of the starting rotation by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made two relief outings before returning to the rotation. Including these two relief appearances, Keller appear to be a pitcher who has really turned the corner in recent months.
Keller has now made 19 appearances, 17 starts, pitching 97.1 innings during this stretch. Keller has posted a 3.43 ERA, 8.6% walk rate, 19.8% strikeout rate, and a 0.65 HR/9 during this stretch. While Keller may never reach the ace status the Pittsburgh Pirates had once hoped, he appears to be developing into a quality middle of the rotation arm.
Rodolfo Castro goes deep
With the Pirates leading 1-0 in the bottom of the 3rd inning, Rodolfo Castro stepped to the plate with Bryan Reynolds on base and two outs. Castro proceeded to launch his 6th home run of the season, giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
Even though he has hit a bit of a slump of late, Castor is still putting together a fine season. At just 23-years-old, Castro is currently hitting for a .242/.305/.425 slash line to go with a 104 wRC+. Castro continues to play like a guy who should be in the lineup every day, and could have a big future in Pittsburgh.
Oneil Cruz continues to flash his elite potential
Between majestic, sometimes even seemingly humanly impossible home runs, elite sprint speed, and the best infield arm in all of baseball, Oneil Cruz has quickly become one of the best human highlight reels in baseball. This continued on Tuesday night.
At the plate Cruz was 3-for-5 with a double, his 13th home run of the season, two runs scored and two RBI. Cruz also flashed his elite spring speed of 30.6 feet per second as he scored on a Bryan Reynolds singled to right field in the 5th inning that made the score 4-0 Pirates.
As for his home run, well, as most of Cruz’s home runs are it was VERY impressive.
His two-run blast came in the bottom of the 8th inning to make the score 8-2 Pirates. It came after the Pirates scored two other runs in the 8th inning, with those runs come vying Ke’Bryan Hayes reading a wild pitch perfectly and a Jason Delay run-scoring single.
Cruz’s home run left PNC Park on the fly, before bouncing into the Allegheny River. Baseballs being launched in the Allegheny River by Cruz is something that Pirate fans will be seeing a lot of in the coming years.
The Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets will play a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday. Duane Underwood Jr. (4.60 ERA, 3.20 FIP) will start game one for the Pirates, the starter for game two remains TBD. Pirate batters will have their hands full as they face Chris Bassit (3.32 ERA, 3.51 FIP) and Jacob deGrom (1.98 ERA, 1.41 FIP) are slated to start for the Mets.