The Pirates lost two more series last week dropping series to Colorado at home and Baltimore on the road. Fortunately for the Bucs, there was a bright spot. Mitch Keller tossed a complete game shutout early in the week and then seven scoreless innings Sunday. Keller fanned 21 total hitters in those starts. Pittsburgh still has a lot of issues that need fixing (the hitting especially), but the team is once again beginning to show some signs of life.
Game 36: Pittsburgh 2, Colorado 0
The Pirates would task Mitch Keller with stopping the seven-game losing streak and he would deliver. Colorado would counter the Bucco ace with Kyle Freeland. Both starters were fantastic in this one as the threats on the bases were minimal. The first real opportunity came in the third when the Pirates put runners on first and second with nobody out. Freeland was unfazed as he got Austin Hedges to bunt into a force out, getting the lead runner at third, and then getting Ke’Bryan Hayes to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
Keller would continue to dominate the Rockies lineup through the first 5.2 innings. Colorado put two on with two out in the sixth, but Keller got Ryan McMahon to groundout to end the threat. The Pirates appeared to primed to break the scoreless tie in the bottom of the inning as Hedges doubled and Hayes reached on an infield single. Bryan Reynolds would ground into a double play putting a runner at third with two outs. After an Andrew McCutchen walk, Carlos Santana would groundout to end the inning.
The Pirates finally broke through in the seventh as Connor Joe singled and Rodolfo Castro hit his fourth homer of the season to make it 2-0 Pittsburgh. It was clear that Keller was not going to be hit the rest of the night has the Pirates ace set down the final 10 batters of the game in order to finish his first professional complete game, striking out eight and shutting out the Rockies.
Game 37: Pittsburgh 1, Colorado 10
The Pirates would toss Luis Ortiz to the mound to make his season debut in place of the injured Vince Velasquez while Connor Seabold got the ball for Colorado. After a quiet first inning, the Rockies would get the scoring started in the second thanks to a Jurickson Profar solo home run. Pittsburgh would put two on with no one out in the bottom of the inning but fail to score as the offensive woes continued. The Pirates would however event he score in the third as a Hayes one-out double led to a McCutchen two-out RBI single.
The fourth inning is where things unraveled for the Pirates defense. Ortiz allowed back-to-back singles to start the inning before McMahon grounded into what should have been at least one out, maybe even a double play. Unfortunately, Tucupita Marcano dropped the ball at second base allowing everyone to reach. The Rockies would add another run on a fielder’s choice force out before Charlie Blackmon and Randal Grichuk slashed RBI singles. Colorado led 5-1 after the fourth. Ortiz would go five allowing five runs on seven hits but only two of those runs were earned.
The game would settle down until the top of the seventh where Duane Underwood Jr. would strike again. He replaced Jose Hernandez and inherited a runner at first. Underwood would allow five baserunners and five runs to cross the plate which were headlined by a McMahon two-RBI triple and Profar’s second home run of the game. The game would go final at 10-1.
Game 38: Pittsburgh 3, Colorado 4
Rich Hill would get the nod against Antonio Senzatela in the rubber match of the series. The Pirates would strike first in the afternoon matinee as Marcano slugged his first homer of the season to straightaway center field to make it 1-0. Pittsburgh would add on the third inning as Reynolds slashed a two-out double before McCutchen hit his team-leading seventh homer of the year. It was 3-0 Bucs.
Hill would begin the third walking Ezequiel Tovar before getting Kris Bryant and C.J. Cron out. However, Randal Grichuk would double home Tovar to cut the Pirates lead to 3-1. It appeared Hill was out of the inning as McMahon dribbled one back to the mound but Hill was unable to get a handle on the ball as McMahon reached on the error. The next two batters each singled which tied the game at three and chased Hill prematurely. Dauri Moreta would enter and quiet the Colorado bats as he tossed two scoreless innings.
The Pirates were once again primed to take the lead in the sixth inning as Reynolds, McCuthen and Santana loaded the bases with nobody out. Joe would strikeout looking for the first out before Castro lined out to shallow center and Reynolds was hosed at the plate for the inning-ending double play. Pittsburgh’s offensive woes continued.
Robert Stephenson would enter for the seventh and immediately load the bases. Unlike the inept Pittsburgh offense, Colorado immediately capitalized with Profar singling home the go-ahead run. Stephenson would limit the damage, but it would be too late. The Pirates would try to rally in the ninth as Castro worked a walk and Ji Hwan Bae double to put the tying run at third and winning run at second with two outs. Josh Palacios would pinch hit and strikeout to end the game as the Bucs dropped another series.
Game 39: Pittsburgh 3, Baltimore 6
Johan Oviedo looked to get himself and the Pirates back on track as the Bucs headed to Baltimore to face the Orioles. Oviedo would be opposed by Kyle Bradish for Baltimore. After both pitchers worked around traffic in the first, the second inning would be quiet before the Pirates would strike in the top of the third. Bae would slash a leadoff single before advancing to second on a wild pitch. The Pirates would play smallball as Hedges moved Bae with a groundout and Hayes reached on an error that scored Bae.
Oveido was cruising through 4.2 innings before Cedric Mullens tripled. The young pitcher would walk Adley Rutschman before regrouping to get Anthony Santander to strikeout to end the threat. Oviedo would come back out for the sixth where Ryan Mountcastle would triple and Adam Frazier would walk. Dauri Moreta would take over and allow one run to score on a wild pitch. The game would enter the seventh tied at one.
The Bucs would get the run right back in the top of the inning as Connor Joe blasted his fifth homer of the season to make it 2-1. Derek Shelton would turn to Jose Hernandez in the bottom of the seventh for some reason and the O’s took advantage. Mullins and Rutschman slashed back-to-back doubles to tie the game. Underwood would enter and allow the go-ahead single to Mountcastle as another poor decision from the manger cost the Pirates.
Shelton would leave Underwood in the game of the eighth and it would cost him yet again as Mullins clubbed the back-breaking homer to make it 6-2 Orioles and complete his cycle. The Pirates would show some fight in the ninth as McCutchen and Santana would reach, allowing Jack Suwinski to cut the lead to three with an RBI single. Baltimore closer Felix Bautista would enter and strikeout Joe, Castro and Bae to end the game.
Game 40: Pittsburgh 0, Baltimore 2
Roansy Contreras would toe the rubber in the middle game of the series against Tyler Wells of the Orioles. Baltimore would strike first in the first as Rutschman hit his sixth home run of the season to give the O’s a 1-0 lead. Calos Santana would collect the Pirates only hit off Wells in his seven-shutout innings as he led off the second with a single. The Orioles would strike again with another solo shot in the second. This time it was Gunanr Henderson collecting his fourth of the season.
Both starters settled into the game as both offenses remained quiet until the sixth where the Orioles threatened but Contreras did not break. In the seventh, the Pirates got a pair of two-out walks from Santana and Suwinski to bring up Miguel Andujar. Andujar would hit a high flyball to right that Anthony Santander would leap and make a spectacular catch, robbing Andujar of either a game-tying double or go-ahead three-run home run.
Wells would go seven scoreless, only allowing one hit. Contreras would go seven strong innings allowing two run son five hits and unfortunately suffering an undeserved loss. The Pirates would go down in the final tow innings with barley a whimper as the Orioles took the series.
Game 41: Pittsburgh 4, Baltimore 0
Mitch Keller would look to follow his complete game shutout with another stellar performance. He would be opposed by Baltimore’s Kyle Gibson. Shelton would shake up the lineup a bit which would prove large as the Bucs struck in the first McCutchen and Reynolds slashed back-to-back singles to start the game before Santana rolled into an RBI fielder’s choice.
Pittsburgh would strike again in the third as Reynolds reached to lead off the inning via a third strike wild pitch. Suwinski would walk to put runners on first and second with one out. Hayes would drive home Reynolds with an RBI single before a Marcano sacrifice bunt set up Bae for a two-RBI single of his own. The Pirates led 4-0 after the top of the third.
The rest of the game was once again the Mitch Keller show. The righthander would toss seven brilliant innings allowing four hits, walking no one and striking out 13 hitters. Colin Holderman worked around some trouble in the eighth and Bednar hurled a scoreless ninth to bring his ERA down to 0.56 and secure the shutout victory.
NL Central Standings
|TEAM||WIN||LOSS||WIN %||GAMES BACK|
Hitter of the Week: Andrew McCutchen – 5/19 (.263 AVG), 3 R, 3 RBI, HR, 4 BB
Starter of the Week: Mitch Keller – 2 GS, CG, SHO, 16.0 IP, 0 ER, 21 K, 8 H, 1 BB, 2 W
Reliever of the Week: Dauri Moreta – 2 G, 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 K, 0 H, 0 BB
at Detroit Tigers (18-21) – May 16-17
vs Arizona Diamondbacks (24-18) – May 19-21