PITTSBURGH — Mitch Keller (5-10) took the mound for the Pittsburgh Pirates and delivered yet another strong start for the Bucs in their 8-2 win over the New York Mets at PNC Park on Tuesday.
The right-hander blanked the Mets over six innings on five hits and a pair of walks. Keller struck out two and wiggled out of traffic, largely thanks to inducing a pair of inning-ending double plays off the bat of slugger Pete Alonso.
“The’re a really good lineup. A lot of guys that hit for average too. When they’re on base you just kind of have to lock in a little bit more and just execute the pitches a little bit more,” Keller said.
Keller threw 100 pitches, 65 of them for strikes. It was the second consecutive outing in which Keller has thrown triple-digit pitches and the third time in his career overall.
“[I’m] trying to finish as strong as possible. Go six [innings] and give us a chance to win,” Keller said on his mindset.
In 17 starts since the end of May, Keller has posted a 3.45 ERA. On the year, Keller has lowered his season ERA to 4.22. Keller’s fifth win of the season matches a career-high (also five last year).
Oneil Cruz was sure to have his starter’s back. The shortstop fell a triple shy of the cycle in his three-hit performance. Cruz slugged his 13th homer of the season into the Allegheny River in the eighth to put the Bucs ahead by the final tally of 8-2.
On what led the the big night at the plate, manager Derek Shelton said, “I think it’s just continuing to learn and grow and swing at the right pitches.”
After back-to-back singles in the second from Kevin Newman and Jack Suwinski gave the Pirates runners on the corners, Michael Chavis drove in Newman with a sacrifice fly to center. The Bucs took a 1-0 lead on the play.
Rodolfo Castro homered in the third inning to right field off the foul pole after Taijuan Walker hung him a 1-2 breaking ball. The two-run shot, Castro’s sixth long ball of the year, put the Pirates ahead 3-0.
After Cruz ripped a double to the right field corner, Bryan Reynolds drove him in with a base hit. Reynolds was on base four time in the game with a pair of singles and as many walks.
Ke’Bryan Hayes hustled home to score on a wild pitch from Bryce Montes de Oca in the eighth. Jason Delay followed with a two-out single to center which scored Kevin Newman.
Newman and Jack Suwinski each recorded a pair of singles in the victory.
Taijuan Walker (10-4) surrendered four runs in five innings in the start for New York. In four career starts against Pittsburgh, Walker has allowed 14 runs in 16.1 innings (7.72 ERA).
Brandon Nimmo hit a two-run homer off of Robert Stephenson in the eighth inning to cut the Pirates lead to 4-2.
The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the Pirates and is their third victory in their last 15 contests. The win was their 50th of the season, as they now sit at 50-84.
The Pirates and Mets will play a doubleheader on Wednesday. Though the pitching order is yet to be determined, Duane Underwood Jr. (1-5, 4.60 ERA) will start game for the Bucs. The Pirates haven’t yet announced game two’s starter.
Jacob deGrom (4-1, 1.98 ERA) and Chris Bassitt (12-7, 3.32 ERA) will pitch for New York.