It was looking like Mitch Keller really wanted to finish 2022 on a high note by shutting the St. Louis Cardinals offense down with only two hits, two walks, a hit by pitch, to go with five strike outs through five innings.
The score was 0-0 heading into the sixth, with Cardinals’ starter (and brief Pirates starter this season) Jose Quintana holding the Pirates offense scoreless through three before being replaced by Miles Mikolas, who kept the Pirates off the scoresheet until the sixth. The Cardinals finally broke through when Albert Pujols connected for a two run HR — his 703rd of his career — off of Keller to put the Cardinals up 2-0. Keller then gave up two more hits — for four hits in the inning after giving up only two through five — and was subsequently replaced by recent acquisition (and former Cardinals reliever) Junior Fernandez.
It was Fernandez’s second career appearance for the Pirates, and he set down all three batters he faced, two by way of strike outs. He’d pitch 1.1 innings in total, with one hit and two strike outs.
In the bottom half of the sixth the Pirates offense finally broke through against Mikolas, when Bryan Reynolds hit a double to center field scoring Jason Delay from second base, after he had led off the inning with a double of his own to make it 2-1.
The Pirates would knot it up at two when Jack Suwinski lead off the inning with his 19th HR of the season. Surprisingly he only has 37 RBI’s on the season to go with the HR’s.
Following Fernandez’s scoreless appearance, Manny Banuelos, Nick Mears, and Yohan Ramirez combined for another 3.2 IP of hitless ball while allowing only a single walk to five strike outs.
The offense went to work in the ninth with the game tied at two. Ke’Bryan Hayes led off the inning on a four pitch walk and then stole second for his 20th steal of the season. Miguel Andújar would follow with a walk of his own. Rodolfo Castro battled through nine pitches to draw another walk and load the bases. To the plate would come Oneil Cruz as Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol went to the bullpen to bring in LHP JoJo Romero. With the game on the line, Cruz didn’t take the bat off his shoulder and, you guessed it, drew yet ANOTHER walk for the Battlin’ Buccos on four pitches for the walk-off walk and 3-2 victory.
Cardinals @ Pirates
Time: 6:35 PM EST
Pirates Starter: JT Brubaker (3-12, 4.58)
Cardinals Starter: Dakota Hudson (8-7, 4.07)
Brubaker Notes: JT Brubaker returns to make his 28th and final start of the 2022 season. In his previous start on September 15th against the New York Mets, Brubaker gave up five earned runs in three innings before leaving with right arm inflammation. It’s good to see the injury wasn’t severe and he’ll get to try and cap off what has overall been his best season in the MLB.
— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) October 4, 2022
Game 161 and Albert's at first! pic.twitter.com/Gwk0jDSpw3
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) October 4, 2022
UPDATE: Brubaker and Marcano return
Raised in Cranberry Twp, PA, Jeff attended Kent State University and worked in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, before moving to New Orleans in September of 2012. His background is as an Engineering Designer, but he has always had a near unhealthy passion for Pittsburgh sports. Hockey and Baseball are his 1A and 1B, combined with his mathematical background, it's led to Jeff's desire in diving into analytics. Jeff is known as Bucs'N'Pucks in the comments, and began writing for Pirates Prospects in 2022 after contributing so many useful bits of information in the comment section.