Mitch Keller pitched fine, Oneil Cruz hit his first homer, but the offense couldn’t muster enough in a 6-3 loss Sunday afternoon.
In the final game of the year, the Pirates sent out Mitch Keller in a potential sweep situation. In the three innings Keller pitched, he seemed loose and kept his pitches in relatively safe locations.
Keller effectively used his slider/fastball combination, and even though he induced just four whiffs, there were several occasions where the edges got painted to perfection. This was by far not Kellers’ best start, but it was indeed an encouraging start keeping the game 1-1 when he left.
Cody Ponce looked to be a scheduled piggyback pitcher, and things got ugly quick for him. In the 5th inning, the Reds scored multiple runs off of an Aristides Aquino RBI single, and a Joey Votto three-run homer to right-center field. The game stood 5-1 in favor of the Reds.
Sam Howard stopped the bleeding by getting out of a bases-loaded jam and kept the deficit to four runs. The Pirates’ bats would need to forge ahead for yet another comeback.
The Pirates ran into an old friend; that friend is runners in scoring position. Other than an Anthony Alford bases-loaded walk, the Pirates bats couldn’t manage much else after that. Through seven innings, the only “active hitter” was Michael Chavis going 3-3.
Oneil Cruz woke the crowd up in the 9th inning and hit an absolute shot to right-center field for his first major league home run. The game was 6-3 at that point. Unfortunately, the rally fell short and the Pirates dropped the season finale 6-3
Mitch Can Pitch- As mentioned above, Keller didn’t fascinate anybody today, but he looked even keel, and from my perspective, Keller looked loose and relaxed for the first time in a while. Now begs the question, is Keller better suited for one or two times through a lineup like we saw today?
Cruz Is Young- It seems that opposing pitchers have gotten wise against Oneil Cruz in the first two games. Instead of feeding him fastballs, they went away with soft stuff and it was effective. THEN the 9th inning came around and he literally hit a two-run homer from one knee! The kid has the makings to do something special!
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