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Mitch Keller goes the distance as the Pirates win their third straight

Mitch Keller pitched his second-career complete game, as the Pirates defeated the Angeles, 4-1, at PNC Park on Monday evening.

Keller threw 109 pitches–including 75 for strikes–and allowed five hits and one walk while striking out five Los Angeles batters on the night. It was the first complete game in almost exactly one year for Keller, who went the distance while shutting out the Rockies at PNC Park on May 8 of last season.

Right-fielder Edward Olivares gave Keller all the run support he would need when he blasted a grand slam in the bottom of the third inning to give Pittsburgh a 4-0 advantage.

It was a much-needed outing for Keller; while his overall performance early in the 2024 campaign hasn’t been alarmingly bad, he did come into the night with a 2-3 record and an ERA over five. Keller’s victory improved his record to 3-3 and reduced his ERA to 4.41 on the season.

Speaking of victories, it was the third straight for the Pirates, who had lost 17 of their prior 22 games through Friday night. Pittsburgh is now 17-19 and four games back of the first-place Brewers in the National League Central Division. The Buccos are also just one game out of the third and final wild-card spot. Obviously, it’s quite early in the season, and maybe talking about the standings is a bit premature, but Pittsburgh’s slide was so awful, and its hitting so lifeless, that one had to wonder if things would continue to spiral in the wrong direction until it was too late to salvage what was left of the 2024 campaign.

But the Pirates ship hasn’t sunk just yet. In fact, the pitching might be too strong to allow that to happen at all in 2024. Pittsburgh’s team ERA is now 3.57 after Monday night. Its WHIP (walks and hits to innings pitched) is 1.18, good enough for ninth in Major League Baseball. Opponents are hitting just .225 against Bucco hurlers.

As I’ve said before, the pitching has been the least of the Pirates’ concerns. While people are still clamoring for rookie Paul Skenes to finally make his Major League debut, fellow pitcher Jared Jones is making a strong case for Rookie of the Year, and with a 2.63 ERA, a .78 WHIP and 52 strikeouts through 41 innings pitched, he’s an early darkhorse for the National League Cy Young Award.

The Pirates have two more games with the struggling Angels (12-23) before welcoming the Cubs to PNC Park for a huge weekend series to close out this nine-game homestand.


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