The Pirates lost their third straight game and also lost starter Mitch Keller. The hitters continued to flail blindly and the team dropped a 4-3 decision to the Cubs. On the plus side, the front office got a chance to continue evaluating whether it’s a good or bad thing to play hitters who can’t get halfway to the Mendoza Line.
Keller made it through two scoreless innings despite allowing leadoff doubles in both. His velocity still wasn’t at previous levels, but it was better than his first start, frequently around 93-95 mph, occasionally slightly lower.
The third inning didn’t go so well. Home runs by Ian Happ and Javier Baez put the Cubs up, 2-0. With two out, Keller bounced a pitch about halfway to the plate, called for the trainer and left. It was later reported that he had “left side discomfort,” which might or might not be Pirate vaporspeak for an oblique issue.
The Bucs’ hitters continued to be a complete basket case, flailing at pitches well out of the strike zone and taking pitches for strikes. Adam Frazier led off the game with a double, then the next three hitters whiffed. The Pirates didn’t get another hit until Kevin Newman singled in the seventh inning.
Cubs’ starter Tyler Chatwood fanned 11 batters until he left with the bases loaded and two out in the seventh. That was a career high for Ks and he also had a career high with 18 swinging strikes. Jeremy Jeffress relieved and got Phillip Evans to end the inning.
The pitiful offense wasted a couple good efforts from the bullpen. Chris Stratton replaced Keller and retired all four batters he faced. J.T. Brubaker threw three scoreless innings. He had to survive a bases-loaded situation in the sixth, but he allowed only the three runners, on one hit, a walk and a hit batsman. He fanned three.
Michael Feliz went back to his gopherly ways in the eighth. He walked the first hitter and gave up a blast to Kyle Schwarber. After a single, Feliz left with right forearm you-know-what. Miguel Del Pozo finished the inning.
For the second day in a row, the Pirates in the ninth finally showed signs that they knew what bats are for. They got another Colin Moran bomb, his fifth, this one with a runner on. Against a lefty, no less. A third run scored when Bryan Reynolds doubled, went to third on defensive indifference and scored on a grounder by Gregory Polanco. Evans walked, but pinch hitter Jose Osuna, emerging from his puzzling exile, grounded out to end it.