The Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off the first game of their final series of the season by literally walking off the St. Louis Cardinals
The little things. That’s what teams in the position the Pittsburgh Pirates are in entering the final series of a Major League Baseball season have to play for. Do not for one second thing the little things do not matter to the players.
Every player on the Pirate roster would love to avoid the team’s second consecutive 100 loss season. That may seem like a little thing, but to the players and their pride it means more than that.
Monday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates took a step toward avoiding 100 losses. This step was taken as the team rallied to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, who have already clinched the NL Central, by a score of 3-2. With the win, the Prates are now 61-99 on the season.
Mitch Keller caps off the best season of his career by allowing 2 runs in 5 innings
Making his final start of the season, Mitch Keller capped off what was by far the best season of his career with another strong start. Although, the way the game started, it looked like Keller could be on his way to one of the best starts of his career.
Through the first 4 innings of the game it looked like Keller could be on his way to finishing the season with a spectacular start. Keller had allowed just two hits while striking out five through 5 scoreless innings. Then in the 6th inning, Keller ran into trouble.
Keller allowed a single to start the 6th inning before surrendering a two-run home run to Albert Pujols, giving the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. After allowing two more singles, Keller was lifted for Junior Fernández who got the final three outs of the inning while stranding the two runners he inherited.
All told, Keller allowed 2 runs on six hits, two walks, a home run, and five strikeouts in 5+ innings pitched. Keller generated a game-high 11 swings-and-misses. With this outing, Keller finishes the season with a 3.91 ERA, 3.88 FIP, 159 innings pitched and 29 starts, all of which are career-bests for Keller.
The overall stats for the season do not do Keller’s season justice. In the middle of May he changed his pitch repertoire and began to throw a sinker. From this point on, he posted a 3.21 ERA in 126.1 innings pitched. This season was nothing short of a roaring success for Keller who is now in position to be a huge part of the Pirate starting rotation in 2023.
Jack Suwinski continues to mash at PNC Park
Entering the 8th inning the Pittsburgh Pirates had generated just a single run. This run came when Bryan Reynolds doubled in Jason Delay in the bottom of the 6th inning. The score would remain 2-1 until the 8th inning.
Leading off the bottom of the 8th inning, Jack Suwinski would continue to rake at PNC Park. Suwinski led the inning off with his 19th home run of the season, the 16th of which was hit at PNC Park. This blast from Suwinski tied the game at 2.
It’s been a strange season for Suwinski when it comes to home/road splits. Suwinski entered play on Monday night with a .277/.360/.602 slash line at PNC Park, this line only improved as he went 1-for-3 with a walk and his home run. On the road Suwinski has been abysmal, hitting for a .112/.211/.184 slash line. This is certainly something Suwinski will have to find a way to improve upon next season.
Suwinski’s 19 home runs tie him with Atlanta outfielder Michael Harris II for the most among all National League rookies.
Pirate bullpen pitches well
After cleaning up the 6th inning, Fernández got the first out of the 7th inning. In 1.1 scoreless innings pitched he allowed a hit and struck out a pair. Manny Bañuelos followed Fernández, retiring all three batters he faced while striking out two of them.
Nick Mears, who was making his first MLB appearance since October 3rd last year, was summoned to get the final two outs of the 8th inning. While Mears walked a batter, he retired the other two batters he faced while striking a batter out and flashing a power fastball.
Yohan Ramirez, who has pitched extremely well the past six weeks, continued his recent success. Ramirez was handed the ball in the top of the 9th with the game tied and retired the Cardinals in order.
Pittsburgh Pirates walk their way to victory
Leading off the bottom of the 9th inning Ke’Bryan Hayes drew a walk and then stole his 20th base of the season. While at the time it looked like a potentially huge steal by Hayes, Giovanny Gallegos would also walk Miguel Andújar to put two men on base with no one out. Gallegos then walked Rodolfo Castro to load the bases with no one out.
At this point, the Cardinals went to the bullpen.
Facing lefty JoJo Romero, Oneil Cruz would put together a great at-bat. He took two close breaking balls off the plate to start the at-bat on his way to drawing a four-pitch walk, walking the game off in a 3-2 victory.
As of this writing, the Pittsburgh Pirates had not yet announced who would start the second game of the series for them. Righty Dakota Hudson (4.07 ERA, 4.33 FIP) is slated to toe the rubber for St. Louis. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 6:35 PM ET.