For the Pittsburgh Pirates to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in four out of five games – as they did this season – everything must be fine.
In the Pirates’ second straight victory over the top team in the National League — a 5-3 win Tuesday night in front of a raucous crowd of 52,686 at Dodger Stadium — it took:
• Two bursts of power in the form of pioneers from two teams of Michael Chaves and Tokupetta Marcano bet the Pirates to lead 4-0 at the end of the second half.
• The clutch, if erratic, swings from rookie Mitch Keeler, who is trying to win manager Derek Shelton’s trust in order to stay in the rotation. To that end, he may have found a new offering that might help make that happen.
• Powerful relief picnics totaling four turns from four pitchers (none of them were David Bednar invited, by the way). Tyler Bed, Dwayne Underwood Jr., Chris Stratton and Will Crowe all gave up two-strokes – no runs made. They gathered to hit six. Stratton hit from the side for eighth and Crewe saves for the second time with a 1-2-3 finish for ninth. Added bonus: None of the four made more than 20 throws, which could leave them available Wednesday night.
• Powerful throw from rookie right-hander Jack Swinsky, who nailed Dodgers’ Freddy Freeman in an effort to extend a one-to-two to lead the seventh game of one game. “That was the way to play,” said manager Derek Shelton. “It must be perfect. It must be online.”
• Three singles from catcher Tyler Heinemann, who was 1 against 17 entering the game. The third was preceded by Marcano’s sacrifice and double RBI by Brian Reynolds in a big locking run in the ninth inning. He was a welcome take on Reynolds, who was second among 32 former players to bat with sprinters in the scoring position.
It all added to Series Two’s victory for the Buccaneers (21-27) against the Dodgers (33-16) in the past three weeks, with one more game to play.
“I can’t really give a reason exactly,” Chavis said when asked to explain the Buccaneers’ success against the Dodgers. “But I can say it shows our ability. It takes everyone and it was fun to be a part of. Needless to say, it’s the start of the season. We have a lot of ball to play.”
Keeler, who has been in the game recently, made his first start since May 13 and took his first win of the season as a rookie. But he walked five hits and hit another in five runs. He only succumbed to two hits – one from a penalty kick by Tria Turner – and hit five of the hits.
But he was good when it mattered most. Mookie Betts, the former MLS player of the year and current NL home leader (15), retired with a pitcher to third base with a second-placed runner in fourth.
On the fifth, Keeler hit Will Smith and Edwin Rios looking with his last 98 pitches. Both times, Keeler pulled his new throw — a sinker — to take the third hit.
“It’s something we’ve been talking about and working on,” Shelton said. “Mitch talked about something we played with, he and Oscar (Marin shooting coach) started talking about, we were playing with on the battlefield. He revealed it and it seemed like a really effective move.
“The important thing is that his four stitches (fastball) stayed from 94 to 97 (mph). His dives stayed 94 to 97.”
Keeler said he tried it once in Chicago on May 18, but hit the Wilson Contreras of the Cubs on the field.
He didn’t use it heavily until Tuesday when he threw it more than any other throw (35% of the times). But he also threw in four strings, a latch, a bend, and a change in an effort to keep the Dodgers confused.
“You’re definitely not going back on track,” said Keeler, who lowered his ERA to 5.77. “Just keep dealing with this and keep going with the next step. Try to keep the trust going and let my things run in the area.
“I still don’t feel like my driving on (submersible) is really good. A few of those pitches I’ve been trying to get in have been backdoors called strike 3s. I still don’t feel where I want them to, but I feel comfortable as I have more space on the pitch. .
“If you leave him in the middle of the zone or in the zone, he will have enough movement that will keep the speculators out of balance.”
A pitch shot kept the match close, but there were more wins, like Marcano’s hit, RBI’s Reynolds double, and Swinsky’s throw that delighted Chilton.
The manager praised his young squad for being “essentially sound” and liked the way he responded in a very charged atmosphere in front of a large crowd.
“You’re probably playing in a good atmosphere like you’re going to play all year,” he said. “For our young children to be able to do this and perform, it is important for our growth as we continue to develop.”
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