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Mitch Keller Continues to Struggle in 8-2 Loss to Reds

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Mitch Keller’s struggles on the season continued on Friday night against the Reds at PNC Park. Keller was charged with five earned runs as Cincinnati defeated the Pirates 8-2.

Keller cruised through his first two innings where he didn’t allow a baserunner and struck out one. In the third inning, the wheels started two fall off. Tyler Naquin and Kyle Farmer ripped back-to-back doubles, putting the Reds on the board. Shortly after, TJ Friedl drove in Farmer on a sacrifice fly.

In the fourth, Mike Moustakas took a 1-2 pitch and deposited it into the right field seats. The Reds tacked on two in the fifth courtesy of a Brandon Drury two-run double.

The night began on the right foot for Keller but as has been seen far too often, he lacked command and consistency and the Reds made him pay. In total, Keller worked 4.2 innings, was tagged for five earned runs on five hits, two walks and two strikeouts. 51 of his 80 pitches went for strikes. His season ERA is now sitting at 6.61.

Drury added on for the Reds, hitting a two-run homer off of Heath Hembree in the seventh to give the Reds a 7-2 lead and give Drury four RBIs on the night. Moustakas added his second homer of the game, another one off Hembree to add on a run for Cincinnati. Hembree has now given up five home runs in 12 innings on the year.

The Pirates had an early 1-0 lead thanks to a Ben Gamel leadoff homerun to begin the home half of the first. Gamel reached base on his second hit in the third, and Ke’Bryan Hayes drove him in with a double.

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Gamel now has recorded seven multi-hit games in 11 games in the month of May. Seven of his 10 extra-base hits on the year have been collected this month.

Game three of the four game set is Saturday night. Zach Thompson (1-3, 7.08 ERA) gets the start for the Pirates opposite Luis Castillo (0-0, 5.79 ERA).

Takeaways 

  • What To Make Of Mitch?: It seemed like Keller was primed for a breakout this season but here we are in the middle of may and we’re still waiting on that. He’s looked good at times this season, but the bad has outweighed the good. Every time it looks like Keller is about to take a step forward, he seems to take two steps back. In his two starts since he had his best start of the year against the Padres, a game in which he allowed just one run in six innings, Keller has given up 10 earned runs over his last last nine innings of work.
  • Flashing The Leather: The Pirates made a number of highlight-reel plays in this one. To begin the game, Michael Chavis jumped and snared a line drive. Two batters later, Bryan Reynolds made a great sliding basket catch near the warning track to end the inning. Diego Castillo showed off his glove at short by making a snazzy backhanded play on a groundball and fired the ball to first for the out. Gamel made another of his trademarked diving catches in left in the ninth.
  • Central Struggles: With the loss, the Pirates fell to 1-4 against the Reds on the season. The Bucs have posted an 0-6 mark against the Brewers and a 1-2 record against the Cardinals. The Bucs have a 4-2 record on the year against the Cubs, but one of the losses was a 21-0 blowout. Add up all those records and the Pirates are 6-14 against their division foes. Against teams out side of the division, the Bucs have a much more respectable 7-5 record.
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