Pittsburgh Pirates: Ji Hwan Bae's 3-Run Blast Walks Off the Houston Astros
Mitch Keller turned in another strong start, Jack Suwinski and Ji-Man Choi went deep, and Ji Hwan Bae put the icing on the cake with his first career walk off blast
Following a rough first game of the series, where the Pirates lost 8-2 against the Houston Astros, the Pirates were looking for their first win of the series, but a dreadful 9th inning from David Bednar tied the game 4-4 in the 9th. Ji Hwan Bae came in clutch with a 3-run walk off home run in the bottom of the 9th and helped the Pittsburgh Pirates win their first game of the series.
Mitch Keller pitched well in his third start of the season, home runs carried the offense, and the bullpen (except for David Bednar sorta) held the game together for an electric victory. With the Pirates walk off victory, the Pirates are now 1-1 on the series and the Pirates have the chance to win the series in tomorrow's series finale against the Astros. With this victory, the Pirates are now 7-4 this season.
Mitch Keller recovers from shaky start
After a breakout season in the Pirates rotation in 2022, Mitch Keller's success has transfered well since his quality start versus the Boston Red Sox last Wednesday, where he posted 7 strikeouts, only allowed 4 hits, and 1 earned run across 7 innings pitched.
To start off the game, Keller struck out Chas McCormick for his first strikeout of the night, but gave up a moonshot to star third baseman Alex Bregman to put the Houston Astros up 1-0 in the 1st. Keller finished off the inning well by grounding out Yordan Alvarez and struck out Jose Abreu.
In the 2nd inning, Kyle Tucker homered off of Keller to put the Astros up 2-0, making this Keller's first start where he allowed two home runs in a game since July 6th, 2022 against the New York Yankees. In his career, Keller has been pretty reliable in terms of limiting home runs, so this was a rarity for the young righty.
The Astros offense started to get hot, with hits from Jeremy Peña, Jake Meyers, and Mauricio Dubon, but Keller was able to get out of the inning by flying out Martin Maldonado and striking out Chas McCormick for the second time of the night.
After the 3rd inning, Keller cruised for the rest of the game, striking out Abreu and Alvarez to end the inning. In the 4th, Keller's strikeout numbers continued after he struck out Tucker and Peña to start off the inning and he was able to get out of the inning unscathed, getting Martin Maldonado to fly out.
Keller cruised through the 5th, striking out Alvarez for the 2nd time of the night and he was able to get through the 6th inning without a single hit. On the night, Keller went 6 innings with 7 strikeouts, only allowed 2 walks, 2 earned runs, and 6 hits. A pretty impressive outing for Keller.
Offense erupted in the 6th and Ji Hwan Bae won the game!
Early in the game, the Pirates were down 2-0 and the offense was rather sluggish (except for a double by Ji-Man Choi in the 1st), but a 2-run home run from Jack Suwinski tied the game up 2-2 in the 2nd, which kicked the Pirates offense into action.
Fast foward to the 6th inning, the sluggish Pirates offense started to heat up. Ji-Man Choi hit a leadoff solo home run to put the Pirates up 3-2. Ke'Bryan Hayes followed with a double and stole 3rd base to get into scoring position. Canaan Smith-Njigba flew out, which allowed Hayes to score and put the Pirates up 4-2.
The Pirates offense tried to add more runs to the scoreboard in the 8th, with Bryan Reynolds and Ke'Bryan Hayes adding a single to their night, Canaan Smith-Njigba wasn't able to bring them home after striking out against Rafael Montero.
Heading into the 9th inning, the Pirates were tied up 4-4 but singles from Rodolfo Castro and Andrew McCutchen put the winning runs on base. Ji Hwan Bae came in clutch and hit a 3-run walkoff home run to win the game for the Buccos! UNSHEATH THE CUTLASS AND RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER!!!!
David Bednar charged with a blown save after strong bullpen work
Following Mitch Keller's solid outing, Duane Underwood Jr. was given the nod to start off the 7th inning. Compared to Underwood's rough 4 earned run outing on Saturday night, he didn't allow a single run in the 7th, grounding out Chas McCormick and flying out Martin Maldonado and Alex Bregman.
Moving on to the 8th, Colin Holderman held the Astros batters at bay, only allowing a single from Jose Abreu and a fielder's choice from Kyle Tucker. Holderman struck out power threat Yordan Alvarez and flew out Jeremy Peña to end the inning. This led to Holderman receiving his 5th hold of the season, which makes him the league leader in that category.
In the 9th, everything fell apart for the Pirates once closer David Bednar entered for his 5th save opportunity. Bednar started off strong, getting Corey Julks to fly out. A one-out error by Rodolfo Castro was followed by back-to-back hits by the Astros, leading Houston tying the game despite only one of the runs being earned.
Castro singled to start the bottom half of the inning to help make up for his defensive snafu. Following a picnh-hit single by Andrew McCutchen, Bae launched his 3-run home run. His 2nd home run of the season, and first walk off hit of his career, propelled the Pirates to a thrilling 7-4 walk off victory.
Game three of the series will feature a tough pitching matchup of veteran lefty Rich Hill (10.00 ERA, 10 striekouts) and Jose Urquidy (3.86 ERA, 11 strikeouts). After a rough couple of starts, the struggling veteran is looking for his first victory as a Pittsburgh Pirate, and it will be up to him if he can hold the Houston Astros batters at bay to clinch the series win. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 12:35 PM ET.