Pirates work to right ship in series vs. Rockies

May 8, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Mitch Keller (23) is congratulated by manager Derek Shelton (right) after Keller pitched a complete game four hit shutout against the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park. The Pirates shutout the Rockies 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Just as things were looking bleak, the Pittsburgh Pirates found the right opponent in the visiting Colorado Rockies.

Of course, a complete-game shutout by right-hander Mitch Keller in Monday’s series-opening 2-0 win certainly didn’t hurt as the Pirates broke out of a seven-game losing streak.

“Just a great team win,” Keller told AT&T Sportsnet after he was backed by Rodolfo Castro’s two-run homer.

After zooming to one of the best records in baseball over the first month of the season despite coming off back-to-back 100-loss seasons, the Pirates’ game broke down in several areas – pitching, offense and baserunning in particular.

Pittsburgh won’t have Keller in the final two games of the Rockies series, of course, but there will be a sense that Monday’s game will have a positive carryover.

“I think the combination of how electric (Keller’s) stuff was and … you’re in the midst of a seven-game (losing) stretch,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “He stopped it with an exclamation mark.”

The Rockies came into the series having won two in a row and six of their past seven and looking better than the version of the club that got swept at home by Pittsburgh nearly a month ago by a combined 33-9 score.

Monday’s game was the third time Colorado has been shut out, but the team was coming off a 13-6 win over the New York Mets and had scored 35 runs over its previous five games.

Tuesday, Colorado right-hander Connor Seabold (0-0, 5.30 ERA) is scheduled to start opposite Pittsburgh right-hander Luis Ortiz (0-0, 0.00 ERA).

The Pirates needed to find a starter for this game after Vince Velasquez went on the 15-day DL last week because of elbow inflammation. Ortiz, who was added to the team’s taxi squad Monday, is expected to be activated and make his 2023 debut Tuesday as a fill-in.

Ortiz, 24, is 2-1 with a 2.23 ERA in seven starts, with 29 strikeouts and 11 walks in 32 1/3 innings with Triple-A Indianapolis this season. He has risen through the ranks steadily since he signed with Pittsburgh as an international amateur in 2018.

“He’s been throwing the ball well,” Shelton said.

Late last season, Ortiz got his first taste of the major leagues. In four starts, none against Colorado, he went 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA.

The Pirates will need to make his addition official and announce a corresponding move before Tuesday’s game.

Seabold will be making his second start after working out of the bullpen previously this season.

Thursday, he started against Milwaukee, giving up three runs in five innings, with all three runs coming on solo homers. He allowed seven hits, with one strikeout and no walks in a game Colorado rallied to win.

Rockies manager Bud Black called Seabold’s outing “serviceable. Connor did a nice job. I was hoping for four (innings). Gave us five. He gave up three solos, but he kept us in the game.”

In his only career appearance against Pittsburgh, April 17 in the teams’ series earlier this season, Seabold pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief with two hits allowed.

–Field Level Media

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