Keller’s mistakes, Yankees’ power lead to blowout

Keller, relievers bitten by long ball as Bucs crushed by Yankees

Derek Shelton sat down at the podium in the depths of PNC Park and had the Ron Burgundy look on his face.

You know, the one after the legendary Anchorman news team fight, where Ron — while holding a beer — exhales and exclaims, 'boy, that escalated quickly.'

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Yeah, Shelton looked a bit like Will Ferrell Wednesday night following a 16-0 shellacking at the hands of the New York Yankees.

New York broke a scoreless tie in the fifth with a pair of runs, added two more the following inning, and another in the seventh before plating ten runs over the final two innings, blindsiding the Pirates by putting on an offensive clinic that, at times, resembled batting practice.

“When you have a roster limit on pitchers, it causes a little bit of a challenge,” Shelton said afterwards.

That limit, and the game busting open so badly, led Shelton to call on second baseman Josh VanMeter to pitch the final frame. He got shelled for six runs on eight hits.

“We have a doubleheader tomorrow,” Shelton added. “At that point, the game gets out of hand and we’re down eleven, we’re trying to preserve pitching.”

Keller’s start 

Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller was able to work out of early jams thanks, in part, to his newly found sinker that generated multiple ground ball outs.

He got double plays to end the second and third innings, squashing some of New York’s building momentum after putting multiple runners on base in each inning.

“The sinker worked,” Shelton said. “He got the ground balls in the second and the third.”

Keller retired the side in order in the fourth, but then walked a batter and allowed a hit to begin the fifth inning before DJ LeMahieu drove in what proved to be the winning runs with a two-run single.

“That was tough,” Keller said. “They had a hit-and-run. We had been making double plays all night. If they don’t hit-and-run there, (it’s) a double play there, and who knows how the inning goes.”

Keller seemed to lose his touch after that, hanging pitches to Josh Donaldson and Joey Gallo in consecutive at-bats. Those balls were rocketed out of PNC Park at 426 feet and 417 feet, respectively.

“Anybody in that lineup, one through nine, can strike at any time,” Keller said. “Two bad pitches and two homers. They’re a really good lineup.”

In all, he allowed four runs on ten hits over six innings. The silver lining? Seven strikeouts to just one walk.

“Overall, he put the ball on the ground, with the exception of those two (home runs),” Shelton said.

Keller, after making a pair of relief appearances, got into a rhythm in May and June. From May 18 to June 19, he had a 2.54 ERA over 28 1/3 innings.

In his last three starts, however, his ERA is 8.31. But he feels that there was plenty of good in this outing.

“You got to take the positives,” he said. “Outside of those two pitches, I really felt like I controlled the game.

“It sucks, but you have to take the positives and keep running with it.”

Those Damn (Expensive) Yankees

New York showed why it is quite possibly baseball’s best team, and why its roster is compensated as such.

After appearing to be a bit snakebitten early, the Yankees found a way to come through with a couple of big swings as the game went on.

LeMahieu drove in a pair of runs. He’s making $15 million this season. Donaldson — and his $21 million salary — crushed his seventh home run of the season.

Gallo followed that with his tenth long ball. He makes $10.275 million, despite being a career .202 hitter. That base salary is more than any Pirates player’s this season.

And then Aaron Judge blasted his 30th home run of the year, a grand slam to put the game away in the eighth inning.

Judge, currently with a humble $19 million arbitration contract following his turn down off a seven-year, $213.5 million contract this offseason, will become one of baseball’s highest paid players this offseason and could very well be the American League’s MVP this season.

“They can score runs in a hurry,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “When they get going, they’re hard to keep down.”

Money aside, the Yankees also got a tremendous pitching effort from Luis Severino, who went six scoreless innings, as well as consistently strong defense in the infield. And their bench delivered, with Aaron Hicks hitting another grand slam late in the game.

Up next

The Pirates will play a doubleheader Thursday in Cincinnati. The twin billing is a combination of rained out games from May 6 and April 5.

The first game will begin at 2:10 p.m. and will air on 100.1 FM and 1020 AM KDKA. The nightcap will begin at 7:10 p.m. and will air on 93.7 The Fan.