Pittsburgh Pirates: Mitch Keller Rebounds, Offense Explodes In Win Over Cubs

Photo Credit: Rich Schultz/Getty Images

 The Pittsburgh Pirates ended their six game losing streak with a 8-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs. A seven-run second inning, to go along with a solid outing from Mitch Keller led the way for the Buccos.

For the Pirates, it's been a weeks worth of waiting for the offense to finally come alive again, as they registered just 14 runs during their six game winning streak. They scored half of that in the second inning on Saturday night.

It was the top of the order that came through, with Adam Frazier, Phillip Evans, and Colin Moran recorded multiple hits, and drove in six of the team's eight runs scored (Bryan Reynolds drove in two himself).

In the bottom of the second, after loading the bases and still having nobody out, Jacob Stallings drove in two with a two-run single before Frazier and Reynolds both doubled, scoring a total of three. 

But the biggest winner of the night was Keller, who erased his tough outing to start the season with five innings of five-hit, one-run baseball. He struck out seven in the process, but maybe even more important was his lone walk.

Keller walked four batters in just three innings just a week ago against this same Cubs team.

Over 70% of Keller's pitches went for strikes, as the former top prospect pitched as confident as he has in his young career. He mixed his pitches, used everything in his arsenal , and worked all the areas of the strike zone to get outs.

He did leave some pitches in a position to where he could have gotten punished, but it was an overwhelmingly encouraging step for the young Keller.

The next step - repeat the results.

Some other observations from the game.

While the Pirates are deep in a rebuild, so there isn't much of a reason to stress a poor start by a player - it may be close to time to reconsider Anthony Alford in centerfield.

After Saturday's game, Alford has struck out in 80% of his at bats. 

Yes, you saw that right, the former Toronto Blue Jays prospect has struck out in 12-of-15 at bats this season. He has gotten a hit in any of the other three that hasn't resulted in a strikeout.

Dustin Fowler also struck out in his pinch-hit at bat, meaning the center fielders as a collective unit punched out a total of five times. 

Alford and Fowler have struck out in 19-of-30 at bats. That isn't a 'I'm still adjusting to the season' stat, that's a 'I'm out of my league' number.

Again, there really isn't a sense of urgency when your the 2021 Pirates but even those numbers are getting out of hand.

You kind of keep waiting for Evans to look out of his league at some point, but he just keeps hitting. It's so natural. Every game you just know he's going to make a play, whether it's on offense or on the field (on the mound too).

It's nice to see the Pirates get a win when it comes to something like that. Great work by their scouting department, and it'll be interesting to see how they get his bat in the lineup on an everyday basis when Ke'Bryan Hayes returns.

I'm having a hard time letting Gregory Polanco go. I keep wanting to say he's going to hit his way out of this, but it still hasn't come yet.

 That glimmer of hope when he connected and seemed to hit the ball out the ballpark before it being caught for an out was enough to keep going.

Everything says to give up on him, but I feel like I can never count out someone who hits the ball as hard as he does when he makes contact.

The Pirates wrap up their home opening series against the Cubs with a game Sunday afternoon. First pitch is expected around 1:05 P.M. with J.T. Brubaker getting the start against for Pirates Trevor Williams.

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