Mitch Keller had his best start of the season for the Pirates but he was outdueled by Brandon Woodruff in the Brewers 4-2 win over the Pirates in Milwaukee on Thursday. Milwaukee completed the three-game sweep of the Bucs.
Keller was in complete control for the majority of his outing. He was aggressive in the strike zone, throwing 58 of his 75 pitches for strikes. Even more importantly than that for Keller, he showcased some much-needed improved command.
The only blemish for Keller came when Rowdy Tellez turned on a fastball that was up and in and deposited it over the right field fence, giving him his second home run in as many days and the Brewers a 1-0 lead.
Other than that, Keller gave up three softly hit singles and didn’t issue any free passes. He struck out seven over his 5.1 innings of work. The next step for Keller will be to build off of his strong start and string together a few good ones in a row for the Bucs. Consistency has been an issue for the 26-year old in the past.
Unfortunately for Keller, as good as he was, Woodruff was even better. Woodruff was perfect through three innings before Daniel Vogelbach drew an eight-pitch walk. Vogelbach then ended Woodruff’s no-hit bid with one out in the sixth when he dumped a single into center field.
That was the only hit the Pirates recorded off of Woodruff, who went six innings. The Brewers right-hander walked two and struck out nine.
In the seventh, the Brewers recorded back-to-back hits, both ruled doubles, putting runners at second and third. Keston Hiura then hit a 3-1 fastball over the fence the other way to put the Brewers ahead by four.
Ke’Bryan Hayes got the Pirates on the board in the eighth with a two-RBI single with the bases loaded and two outs, but Devin Williams struck out Yoshi Tsutsugo to avoid further damage.
Young Hayes making things happen. pic.twitter.com/7DFQfLFcDR
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) April 20, 2022
Michael Chavis came into the game as a substitution for Josh VanMeter and collected a pair of hits in two at-bats.
The Pirates head to Chicago for a four-game series with the Cubs. On Thursday, Bryse Wilson (0-0, 5.40 ERA) will face Cubs right-hander Mark Leiter Jr. (0-1, 18.90 ERA)
- First Pitch Strikes: A big key for Keller’s success on Thursday was his ability to get in front of just about every hitter he faced. Of the 20 opposing batters he went up against, he threw a first pitch strike to a staggering 18 of them (90%). He was particularly aggressive with the fastball and was able to confidently throw it to batters to get ahead. It worked as a recipe for success for him in this one, and he’ll want to show it again his next time out, which is scheduled to come against these same Brewers.
- Living Up To The Hype: This Brewers pitching staff is regarded as arguably the best in baseball, and that was on full display this series. In game one, Eric Lauer gave up just one run across six innings and only allowed five baserunners. Corbin Burnes went seven strong with 10 strikeouts in game two, and Devin Williams and Josh Hader showed why they are considered two of the best relievers in baseball. In this one, Woodruff carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
- Hiura Feasts on the Pirates: Hiura’s three-run home run was his 11th in his career against the Pirates in just 37 games. His next highest total against any one team is the five long balls he’s hit against the Reds. 30% of his home runs in the Major Leagues have come against the Pirates. His .512 slugging percentage against Pittsburgh is the highest against any team he’s faced with at least 50 plate appearances.