Johan Oviedo dominated and Ke'Bryan Hayes stayed red hot at the plate as the Pittsburgh Pirates started their road trip with a victory in Kansas City
After capping off a disappointing homestand by dropping three of four against the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates kicked off a six-game road trip on Monday night. The road trip begins with a three-game series in Kansas City against the lowly Royals.
Led by a dominant starting pitching performance, the Pirates defeated the Kansas City Royals 5-0 on Monday night. The win starts both this three-game series and six-game road trip on the right foot, while improving the Pirates to 59-73 on the season.
Blown early chances don't hurt the Bucs
Facing an older, over the hill Zack Greinke the Pirates easily could have put this game away early. The first two batters of the 1st inning reached base. They loaded the bases with no one out in the 2nd inning. However, they were only able to get 1 run out of these two situations.
A pair of double plays killed the Pirate rallies. Although, the double play Alfonso Rivas hit into in the 2nd inning did at least bring in a run. The Pirates led 1-0 after 2 innings but they could have, and honestly should have led by much more.
Thankfully, these wasted early opportunities would not burn the Bucs.
Another strong Johan Oviedo start
In some extents it has been an up-and-down season for Johan Oviedo. Overall, there has been more good than bad for teh young Pirate righty. The good continued with a strong start against the Royals on Monday night.
This start from Oviedo set the tone for the Pirates on Monday night. While the Pirate offense wasted scoring opportunities early in the game, the main reason they did not cost the team was due to the way Oviedo pitched. He got into a rhythm early and never looked back.
Oviedo fired a complete game shutout, the first complete game of his career. He threw a career high 112 pitches with 73 of them being for strikes. This start is the latest in a season that a Pirate starter pitched a complete game shutout on the road since Charlie Morton in September 2009.
Oviedo allowed just two hits, walked a pair, struck out five, and did not allow a Kansas City batter to even reach second base. He generated 11 swings-and-misses, lowering his ERA on the season to 4.20.
This start also came at a time when the Pirates needed it in a bad way. Pirate starting pitchers have struggled in recent weeks and have not been pitching deep into games. Oviedo gave the bullpen a much needed night off on Monday.
Oviedo has four start this season in which he's allowed at least 6 earned runs. He's allowed 27 earned runs across these four starts, which accounts for 38% of the earned runs he's allowed this season. So, really, it has not even been an up-and-down season for Oviedo, it's just been four bad starts.
Assuming Oviedo, who is still just 25-years-old, can take another step forward next season the Pirates could have a very good starting pitcher on their hands. Considering this was his first full MLB season, there is reason to believe Oviedo is capable of taking that step.
Ke'Bryan Hayes stays hot
Few hitters in baseball have been as hot as Ke'Bryan Hayes in the month of August. His hot streak continued on Monday night as he put together yet another big game at the plate for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After singling in his first trip to the plate, he tucked a double just fair inside the third base line to drive in a run his second trip to the plate. Trips three and four saw Hayes pick up base hits, with his fourth hit helping to set up a run-scoring hit by Andrew McCutchen in the 7th inning, giving him a four-hit night. Hayes capped off his night by drawing a walk in the 9th inning.
Lefty Cole Ragans (3.66 ERA, 3.24 FIP) is set to start for the Royals in game two of the series on Tuesday night. As of this writing, the Pirates have yet to announce a starting pitcher but it could be Luis Ortiz (5.37 ERA, 6.10 FIP) who will start one of the next two games. First pitch from Kauffman Stadium is scheduled for 8:10 PM ET.