The starting pitching did their job
A big reason the Pirates got off to the 20-8 was due to how well the starting rotation was pitching. While the rotation has slumped some during the team's struggles, they certainly did their job against the Orioles.
Johan Oviedo struggled with his command throughout his start on Friday night. Despite this, he was able to buckle down and get big outs when he needed to. Oviedo and the Pirates had a 1-0 lead entering the 6th inning when he was pulled from the game with runners on the corners and no one out.
Oviedo would be charged with a run that scored after he exited the game. However, if Austin Hedges would have found a pitch from Dauri Moreta that bounced in front of the plate there's a real chance that run does not score.
Struggling mightily with fastball command but still limiting a very good Oriole lineup to 1 run while pitching into the 6th inning was a good outing from Oviedo. It should also prove to be a good learning experience for the young righty.
Saturday night was a similar story for Roansy Contreras. His swing-and-miss stuff was not working and he allowed too much hard contact. This led to Contreras allowing a solo home run in both the 1st and 2nd innings. However, that was it for Contreras and allowing runs.
Contreras retired 15 of the final 19 batters he faced on his way to pitching 7 strong innings. Every team in baseball will take 7 innings of 2 run baseball from their starting pitcher each and every night, especially on the road agaisnt a lineup the quality of Baltimore's. Unfortunately, due to the team's offensive woes this strong start from Contreras was not enough.
Sunday afternoon Mitch Keller turned in his second consecutive dominant start. Keller pitched 7 scoreless innings, allowed just four hits, and became just the third pitcher in Pirate history to strikeout 13 batters without issuing a walk in a game.
While the Pirates were able to salvage the series finale behind Keller on Sunday, in each game of the series they got strong enough starting pitching to win. Hopefully this will prove to be the start of a another long stretch of strong starting pitching.