There was no champagne—there wasn’t even Gatorade—but the bottled water dousing that Derek Shelton got today from his players will always be a very sweet memory of his first victory as the Pirates’ manager.
Two home runs, key defense and some lights-out pitching by a pair of rookies and the resident Comeback Kid propelled the Bucs to a 5-1 win over the Cardinals on the road at St. Louis’s Busch Stadium.
Mitch Keller (1-0, 1 ER, 2 K, 3 BB) got the second win of his young big league career with a five-inning start, although at the beginning of the game he looked very erratic—it seemed like his pitches were going everywhere except over the plate and his velocity was a bit off. He managed to get out of trouble a few times thanks to timely pop-ups, but a Kolten Wong single, followed by a wild pitch that advanced Wong, then a Tommy Edman infield single that brought Wong home put the Cards on the board first in the bottom of the third inning.
However, the Bucs’ offense finally came alive in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs, Colin Moran unleashed a bomb into the right field stands off Cards starter Dakota Hudson (0-1, 4 ER, 4 K, 1 BB) to tie the game. Phillip Evans singled, then Jose Osuna cleared the decks with a pretty homer into center field to give the Bucs a 3-1 lead. In the fifth, a Jacob Stallings double, followed by an Erik González sac fly and an Adam Frazier walk drove Hudson out of the game. Reliever Austin Gomber gave up another walk to Bryan Reynolds, and a Josh Bell sacrifice scored Stallings to make it 4-1.
Keller settled down as the game progressed, but earlier there had been a trainer visit to the mound, so Shelton decided to err on the side of caution and took Keller out. JT Brubaker made his major league debut in the sixth inning and promptly struck out two. Paul Goldschmidt hit a single and tried to stretch it into a double, but Reynolds was like NOT TODAY GOLDY and caught him way off second. Brubaker yielded a double to Paul DeJong and a single to Yadier Molina in the seventh inning, but recorded two more strikeouts without runs scoring.
After not looking that great in his MLB debut yesterday, Evans had a three-hit game today, scoring Bell on a single off Andrew Miller after Bell walked in the eighth for the final Pirates run. Michael Feliz took care of the Cardinals side in the eighth inning, but it was Nick Burdi’s outstanding ninth inning that closed the deal for the Bucs. Burdi’s slowest pitch was still in the mid-nineties, and he struck out Goldschmidt, DeJong and Matt Carpenter with easy poise. After all his injury woes, to see him perform at that level was the cherry on the victory sundae.
In addition to his first managerial win, Shelton got baseball media talking for participating in the first socially distanced argument with an umpire, getting six feet away from the face of home base ump Jordan Baker after Baker tossed Derek Holland for arguing balls and strikes. Someone had to do it, so thanks, Shelty.
But in the end, it’s just this: