The Pirates had a chance to take three of a four-game series from the Padres, a series many of us expected to be a blowout. Faced with Mitch Keller’s second meltdown in three starts, though, Derek Shelton chose to surrender the game and accept a split of the series. The Padres won, 8-3.
Keller got rocked in the first inning. He allowed five hits, including three doubles and a home run, most of which had to be measured on the Richter Scale. It didn’t help that he fell behind the first four hitters. So the Pirates started off down, 4-0.
Keller’s second inning started off better, as he retired the first two hitters. But yet another double and two walks loaded the bases to Eric Hosmer. With Keller having a terrible day and a generally terrible time with left-handed hitters, the obvious move was to go to the bullpen.
It was time for a teaching moment. Hosmer of course singled to drive in two, making it 6-0. Jacob Stallings got Keller out of the inning by throwing Hosmer out stealing.
The Pirates still had a chance to get back in it. Colin Moran and Erik Gonzalez led off the bottom of the second with doubles, with Moran repeating Stallings’ feat of scoring from second on a double. The Pirates later loaded the bases with one out, bringing up Keller. Shelton could have tried to get the Pirates back in the game by sending up a pinch hitter. Instead . . .
Keller fanned and Adam Frazier was retired, and the chance to make a game of it floated away.
Leaving Keller in didn’t exactly accomplish anything. He lasted only an inning and a third longer, giving up a seventh run.
The bullpen pitched well again, giving up just one hit and one run over five and two-thirds innings. Clay Holmes got five outs. Actually six, as one runner reached on an error by Moran, the only error by a non-pitcher in a week. Luis Oviedo mostly bounced back with two hitless innings. He had a two-batter control lapse that cost him a run when the walks were followed by a double steal and a sacrifice fly. Michael Feliz and David Bednar each threw a scoreless inning.
The Pirates got their other two runs on an error. Ironically, given Shelton’s decision to punt the game by letting Keller hit, their pinch hitters went 3-for-3. That included Anthony Alford’s first hit of the year, which was a relief, poor guy. Michael Perez also got his first Pirate hit. Moran was the only Pirate with two hits.
So the Pirates played a powerhouse team evenly over four games. Their bullpen and defense actually looked better than San Diego’s, much better in the case of the latter. The Padres’ main advantage was drastically more power. Both teams were missing their best player, but that impacts the Pirates more. Ke’Bryan Hayes makes up a much larger proportion of the Pirates’ talent than Fernando Tatis, Jr., does of the Padres’.
The Pirates now move on to Milwaukee.