Pittsburgh Pirates: Offense Shut Down, Strong Mitch Keller Start Wasted in Loss

Lack of offense once again burned the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night

Jul 28, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Ji Man Choi (91) hits
Jul 28, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Ji Man Choi (91) hits / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
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Mitch Keller pitched well, but the offense was shutdown by Philly's pitching staff in a 2-1 loss for the Pittsburgh Pirates

After capping off their road trip by taking two of three from the San Diego Padres for their first series win since sweeping the Padres in late June, the Pittsburgh Pirates returned home on Friday night. The Pirates welcomed the Philadelphia Phillies to PNC Park for the opening game of a three-game series, kicking off a five-game homestand.

The homestand started with something that Pirate fans have seen far too much of this season - poor offense. In a 2-1 loss, the Pirates recorded just five base hits and drew just one walk. With the loss, the Pirates are now 45-58 on the season.

Bonus back start for Mitch Keller

After turning in back-to-back poor starts since the All-Star Break, Mitch Keller entered Friday night's start in need of a strong bounce back start. Keller stepped up, and turned in the bounce back start that he was in need of.

Keller allowed a 2-run home run to Kyle Schwarber in the 3rd inning. Then in the 4th inning the Phillies loaded the bases with just one out, but Keller got out of it with a strikeout and a pop out. Outside of these two hiccups, All-Star Keller was on the mound.

With two outs and no one on base in the 6th inning Keller issued a walk. This ended his night with Ryan Borucki entering the game and recording a strikeout to end the inning. Keller allowed the 2 runs via the Schwarber home run on six hits, three walks, and eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings pitched. He threw 70 of 108 pitches for a strike and generated a healthy 18 swings-and-misses.

The Pirate bullpen pitched well in relief of Keller. Borucki walked a batter and struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings pitched. Jose Hernandez struck out two while issuing a walk and getting the first two outs of the 8th inning, Yerry De Los Santos got the final out of the 8th inning and first two outs of the 9th, Carmen Mlodzinski then got Bryce Harper to fly out to left field with the bases loaded to end the top of the 9th.

Rain delay

With two outs in the 7th inning and Endy Rodriguez on first base, a heavy rain quickly descended on PNC Park. After some initial delay by the umpiring crew, the decision was made to put the tarp on the field and delay the game.

Following the rain delay Jeff Hoffman replaced Philadelphia starting pitcher Zack Wheeler who had been dominant. Hoffman quickly struck out Jared Triolo to end the 7th inning with the Phillies still leading 2-1.

Pirate offense struggles

The aforementioned Wheeler was dominant for the Phillies. In 6.2 innings pitched Wheeler allowed just four base runners while stirking out 11. The only reason Wheeler's night ended after 6.2 innings pitched was due to the rain delay.

Three of the four base runners allowed by Wheeler came in the 4th inning. Bryan Reynolds singled, Andrew McCutchen walked, and Ji Man Choi doubled. Choi's double scored Reynolds, but McCutchen was held at third base. Henry Davis then flew out to shallow right field and Rodriguez lined out to end the inning.

The rain knocking Wheeler out of the game did not help the Pirate offense. Back-to-back pinch hit singles by Josh Palacios and Connor Joe but two runners on base with just one out in the 8th inning, but Reynolds following by hitting into an inning ending double play.

Craig Kimbrel took the ball for the Phillies in the 9th inning and retired the first two batters he faced. Davis drew a four-pitch two-out walk against Kimbrel, but Rodriguez then popped out to end the game.

Next up

Quinn Priester (9.28 ERA, 8.44 FIP) is slated to make his third MLB start in game two of the series. Aaron Nola (4.25 ERA, 4.23 FIP) who has struggled compared to his standards this season will start for the Phillies. First pitch from PNC Park is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET.

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