Pittsburgh Pirates: Mitch Keller Throws Dominant Complete Game, Ends 7 Game Losing Streak
By Marty Leap
Mitch Keller did what aces do, he put a foot down and turned in a dominant performance as he played stopper to help end the Pittsburgh Pirates seven-game losing streak
Searching for a win to snap their seven-game losing streak the Pittsburgh Pirates sent their ace to the mound on Monday night. The team got the ace type performance they were in search of as the defeated the Colorado Rockies 2-0.
With the win, the Pirates snapped thier seven-game losing streak. This win improved the team's record on the season to 21-15, and makes them 4-0 against the Rockies. The win also keeps the Pirates in first place in the National League Central division.
Mitch Keller turns in the best start of his MLB career
Part of being an ace for a Major League Baseball team is playing stopper. It's putting a foot down, dominating, and refusing to lose when your team is stuck in a losing streak. That is exactly what Mitch Keller did for the Pirates.
It did not take long for it to become clear Keller had that good stuff on Monday night. Outside of an 11 pitch at-bat by Ryan McMahon in the 1st inning, Keller mostly blew through and mowed down Rockie hitters.
Pitching a complete game shutout, Keller allowed just four hits, walked one, and struck out eight. He generated 11 swings-and-misses, and tossed the compelte game on just 103 pitches. Despite needing over 20 pitches to get through the 1st inning, Keller still damn near threw a Maddux.
This start was the first time in his MLB career that Keller pitched into the 8th inning. In fact, it was the first time since June of 2019 with Triple-A Indianapolis that Keller pitched into the 8th inning of a start. He added an extra inning to that for good measure.
Keller's masterpiece snapped a long, long streak. It was the first complete game for a Pirate pitcher since Steven Brault in Septmeber 2020, and the first complete game shutout since Jameson Taillon in April 2018.
Keller now owns a 2.72 ERA and a 3.05 FIP this season while his 56 strikeouts rank 3rd in the National League. In his last 29 starts, so a start or two short of a full seaons worth of starts, Keller owns a 3.07 ERA. It's been a long and at times very painful road, but Keller is budding into the ace the Pirates always envisioned.
Struggling Pirate offense plagued by double plays
As has often been the case during their losing streak it was not a lack of scoring opportunities that hurt the Pirate offense. There were ample opportunities for the Bucs to Colorado starter Kyle Freeland but they never did, and double plays were a big reason why.
Ke'Bryan Hayes singled to start the bottom of the 1st inning, but was then thrown out attempting to steal second base for an inning ending strike 'em out throw 'em out double play. This happened again in the 5th inning when Chris Owings struck out and Rodolfo Castro was thrown out at third base on the front end of a double steal attempt.
Jack Suwinski walked to start the 3rd inning and Owings singled. After Austin Hedges failed to get a sacrifice bunt down, Hayes hit into an inning-ending double play. After Hedges doubled to start the 6th inning and Hayes reached on an infield hit, Bryan Reynolds bought a ticket on the double play train. After Andrew McCutchen was walked, Carlos Santana grounded out to end the inning.
Thankfully, the double play issues did not cost the Pirates a victory.
Rodolfo Castro comes through for the Pirate offense
Connor Joe singled to start the 7th inning, but it did not create a feeling of a rally being started. There was still plenty of unease, still a feeling of "how will they screw this up?" Well, thankfully, Rodolfo Castro had other ideas.
Castro drove a pitch from Freeland toward center field. The ball just kept carrying, and carried all the way to the Colorado bullpen. With an exit velocity of 102.2 MPH, Castro had his 4th home run of the season and the Pirates had a 2-0 lead.
Rudy's home run felt like one of the biggest hits of the still young season for the Pirates. Stuck in a seven-game losing streak with the offense basically nonexistent, the Bucs were in dire need of someone, anyone to come through with a big a hit. A big hit that could help take some weight of people's shoulders and clear the air. Castro's home run feels like it may have done just that.
The second game of this series will see Luis Ortiz (2.23 ERA, 3.62 FIP at Triple-A this season) will make his 2023 debut for the Pirates. Connor Seabold (5.30 ERA, 5.60 FIP) is set to start for the Rockies. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 6:35 PM ET.