Pittsburgh Pirates: 4 Home Run Game Wasted as Mitch Keller, Bullpen Struggle in Loss

The Pirate bullpen failed to hold a lead against the Braves on Tuesday night

Aug 8, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Alfonso Rivas (6)
Aug 8, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Alfonso Rivas (6) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Big games from Ke'Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds were not enough as Mitch Keller struggled again and the bullpen blew a lead in an 8-6 loss for the Pittsburgh Pirates

When you are a bad baseball team you find ways to lose games that you have no business losing. This was the case for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night. Even though the Pirates appeared to have the best team in baseball, the Atlanta Braves, on the ropes, they failed to secure a second consecutive victory.

Poor work from the bullpen led to the Pirates failing to hold a lead. This poor performance from the bullpen led to an 8-6 loss for the Pirates, dropping them to 51-62 on the season. There have been a lot of losses this season, but this was one that stung.

Huge game for Ke'Bryan Hayes

One of the biggest disappointments of the 2023 season has been the offense of Ke'Bryan Hayes. Even though his offense has been poor for most of the season, Hayes had a huge game for the Bucs on Tuesday night.

Hayes got the Pirate scoring started with a 3-run home run in the 2nd inning, giving him 6 on the season. Hayes also hit a double and drew a walk. Every time Hayes has a game like this the Pirates and their fans find themselves hoping he has found something at the plate that will spark his offense. Once again, here we are, in that position.

Pirate home runs

They Hayes home run was far from the only one of the night for the Bucs. In recent games the Pirate offense has experienced a much needed increase in power, that continued in this four home run game.

Alfonso Rivas led off the 4th inning with his 2nd home run in five games with the Pirates. Josh Palacios and Bryan Reynolds led the 5th inning off with back-to-back home runs. These blasts give Palacios 4 on the season and Reynolds 15. It also gave the Pirates a 6-3 lead. Unfortunately, this lead would not hold.

Pitching proves to be Pirate undoing

Mitch Keller started for the Pirates and was in dire need of a strong start. While he pitched better than he has in recent starts, Keller's results still left something to be desired. Keller lasted just 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on nine hits, a home run, and just four strikeouts. In his last seven starts Keller has pitched 38.2 innings, allowing 31 runs. Not good!

Ryan Borucki took over in the 5th inning with the Pirates leading 6-3. After allowing a home run to Orlando Arcia and a base hit to Michael Harris II, he was pulled for Colin Holderman. Holderman hit Ronald Acuña Jr. with a pitch, then issued back-to-back tow-out walks to bring in a run.

Andre Jackson was the lone bright spot for Pirate pitching. Jackson struck out four in 2 perfect innings of relief. Since joining the Pirates in Milwaukee this past weekend, Jackson has pitched 5 scoreless innings of relief.

Going to the 9th inning the Pirates held a 6-5 lead. With David Bednar coming into the game you had to feel good about the team's chances. Well, this was the fourth time in five days that Bednar had pitched and he looked like a pitcher who was worn down from this.

Bednar issued a walk and allowed a double with one out. However, a ground ball off the bat of Marcell Ozuna led to a run getting cut down at the plate. At this point it looked like Bednar would still wiggle off the hook to close out the Pirates victory. That would not be the case, though, as Bednar allowed a game-tying single and a 2-run double to Arcia, making the score 8-6 Braves.

9th inning rally comes up short

Trailing for the first time since the 2nd inning, the Pirate offense nearly pulled off a come back of their own in the bottom of the 9th. Reynolds singled to start the inning, capping off his game 2-for-4 with his home run and a walk. His single was followed by Andrew McCutchen's second walk of the game. Jack Suwinski came to the plate as the winning run, but grounded out to end the game.

Next up

Quinn Priester (8.69 ERA, 7.24 FIP) is slated to start for the Pirates in game three of the series on Wednesday. Priester and the Pirates will face a tall task going against lefty Max Fried (1.69 ERA, 2.58 FIP). First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.

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