Pirates head home with victory
ST. LOUIS — Pittsburgh’s Derek Shelton staged baseball’s first major, socially distanced umpire argument, then got his first victory as a big league manager as the Pirates beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-1, on Sunday.
Colin Moran and Jose Osuna homered, and Mitch Keller pitched five solid innings for the Pirates.
Shelton came out to argue with plate umpire Jordan Baker in the third inning after pitcher Derek Holland was ejected from the dugout for arguing balls and strikes.
Shelton lifted a gaiter over his face as he left the dugout, and Baker pulled a mask out of his pocket and held it to his face as Shelton argued from about six feet away. Baker let Shelton say his piece, and the first-year skipper was not ejected.
Despite the odd circumstances of the argument, Shelton paid Baker a compliment about the dust-up.
“Jordan did a really good job of it. We were trying to stay distant, which we were both aware of,” he said. “Then his mask broke midway though (our argument) so I wanted to make sure that my mask stayed up and he was great.
“He handled it professionally. I think it was the first time, and we were both in an unknown area, and then when I went out there later, we kind of got a chuckle out of it.”
Pittsburgh avoided being swept and beat the Cardinals for just the second time in their last 14 meetings. The Pirates made sure this was a game to celebrate, all for their new manager.
“I got a pretty severe beer shower,” Shelton said. “I think anybody that knows me knows I’m (mad) we wasted that much beer.”
Keller (1-0) faced St. Louis for the first time in his career. He gave up one run, two hits and three walks while striking out three. His only blemish came when Kolten Wong scored on Tommy Edman’s infield single in the third inning.
He attributed some of his success to the lack of familiarity the Cardinals had with him.
“It’s advantage-me because they haven’t seen me, I haven’t seen any of those guys in the minor leagues or Triple-A or anything like that,” Keller said. “So the next time out I’ll love to keep changing the game plan up on them and keep them on their toes.”
Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson (0-1) gave up four runs, including two homers, in 4• innings. Hudson lost for the first time in four career starts against the Pirates, and it was his first loss against an NL Central opponent after winning his previous five starts in 2019.
“They’ve been swinging a little bit early in the count lately, but it felt like after that, they kind of saw what I was I was trying to get them to swing at,” Hudson said. “I just left a few pitches over and it kind of snowballed a little bit.”
Pirates RHP JT Brubaker threw two scoreless innings in his major league debut. Brubaker had spent the last five years in the minor leagues.
Cardinals RHP Kodi Whitley also made his major league debut in a relief appearance in the top seventh. He retired all three batters he faced.
Pirates: OF Gregory Polanco (COVID-19) remains out of the lineup. Shelton has been checking in with him back in Pittsburgh. “I talked to (Polanco) two days ago. The reports have been good. I know he’s working out again today.” Shelton said. “As we continue to see him, we’ll make an evaluation of when he’ll be back.”
Cardinals: OF Harrison Bader was out of the starting lineup after being hit by two pitches Saturday. Manager Mike Shildt said it felt like the right time just to give Bader a break. “Harrison’s fine. You know, he’s a tough dude.” … RHP Giovanny Gallegos (undisclosed illness) is expected to be added the roster for Tuesday’s game in Minnesota.
Pirates: LHP Steven Brault (4-6, 5.16 ERA in 2019) will face the Milwaukee Brewers tonight for the Pirates home opener. Brault is 1-3 in 10 career starts against the Brewers.