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Keller, Pirates’ Bullpen Play Damage Control to Take Down Reds 6-2

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Mitch Keller had to work out of some traffic throughout the night, but for just the fifth time this season, he worked into the sixth inning. Keller was able to limit the damage, and the bullpen held the Reds scoreless as the Pirates defeated the Reds 6-2 at Great American Ballpark on Tuesday night.

Keller first faced a jam in the second when the Reds had runners on first and third with nobody out. He got Tucker Barnhart to bounce into a double play as the Pirates traded a run for two outs and the Reds took an early 1-0 lead.

The Reds put Keller in another jam when they loaded the bases with nobody out in the fourth, but Keller was able to limit the damage by only allowing one run to come across on a sacrifice fly from TJ Friedl.

In total, Keller pitched 5.2 innings. He gave up two runs on seven hits, four walks and picked up a pair of strikeouts. It was not his prettiest start by any means, but Keller pitched with confidence and did not unravel when he was in trouble.

Keller isn’t the only one who was able to escape a jam. Nick Mears was handed the ball in the seventh inning and promptly loaded the bases without recording an out. Clinging to a one-run lead, the heart of the order was due up for the Reds. Mears got Nick Castellanos and Joey Votto to pop out before striking out Farmer to end the inning. Chasen Shreve pitched the eighth and gave up a leadoff double, but retired the next three to keep Cincinnati off the scoreboard.

Ben Gamel hit a solo home run, his eighth of the year, to tie the game at one. Gamel turned on an inside fastball, and broke his bat in the process, but the ball had just enough juice to sneak over the right field fence.

The Pirates took the lead for the first time in the fifth inning when Ke’Bryan Hayes lined an RBI single up the middle, and Cole Tucker did the same two pitches later, giving the Bucs a 3-2 lead. Hayes picked up three hits on the night.

The Bucs tacked on three more in the eighth when Michael Perez picked up his second hit on that night that allowed Gamel to come around to score. Hoy Park followed with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Anthony Alford. Yoshi Tsutsugo appeared as a pinch hitter and ripped an RBI double into the right field corner. The Pirates added on some much needed insurance to give them a 6-2 lead.

The Pirates will look to win their fifth straight series Wednesday with a scheduled 12:35 first pitch. Luis Castillo (8-15, 4.08 ERA) will pitch for the Reds and the Pirates will send out Connor Overton (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

Stat of the Game:

  • Keller has been much better on the road than at PNC Park in 2021. When pitching outside of Pittsburgh, Keller owns a 3.57 ERA (16er/40.1ip) in eight starts. He’s picked up 38 strikeouts on the road this year. For comparison. in 13 starts at PNC Park, Keller has posted a 7.76 ERA (46er/53.1ip). Keller’s picked up two wins at home and two on the road this season. 

Takeaways:

  • Keller’s Been Better: In his last four starts, Keller has a 3.32 ERA (8er/21.2ip). In that span, Keller has allowed 27 hits, walked seven and recorded 19 strikeouts. Maybe the most promising stat for Keller is that he has not allowed a home run in those four starts. In a non-statistical observation, Keller has done a much better job of pitching with confidence and having that confidence even when things aren’t going his way.
  • Cold Colin: Colin Moran has been mired in a slump since his nine-game hitting streak came to a close on Sept. 5. In 12 games since then, Moran is batting just .122 (5 for 41) with a double and has struck out 13 times. He has drawn seven walks in that span. Moran has struggled in the last month of the season for his career, as entering play he has posted his lowest average (.234) on-base percentage (.312) and slugging percentage (.381) in Sept./Oct.
  • Yoshi’s Power Perspective: After appearing as a pinch hitter in the eight inning, Tsutsugo made his 100th plate appearance as a member of the Pirates yet he still is tied for the third most home runs hit by a Pirate this season. He trails only Bryan Reynolds (24) and Gregory Polanco (11). Of course, Polanco is no longer with the Pirates so Tsutsugo is tied for second on the team among active players. Jacob Stallings, Moran and Gamel also all have eight. Not sure if that is more telling of what Tsutsugo has been able to do or how much power hitting has been lacking for the Pirates all season, but Tsutsugo has provided a big jolt to the Buccos’ offense none the less. 
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