Kela Throws Shutout Inning In Relief

The new Pirates reliever tossed a scoreless seventh inning

Shelby Cassesse
August 03, 2018 - 9:46 pm
Francisco Cervelli and Keone Kela

© Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – It was a shock for Keone Kela when he found out he was traded to Pittsburgh early Tuesday morning.

Since then, he's packed his belongings in Dallas, arrived in Pittsburgh on Thursday and threw his first inning of relief Friday night in the Pirates 7-6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Kela pitched a shutout seventh inning, allowing two hits and striking out one. 

"Definitely not the best outing I want to have," he said. "Of course, I want to go 1-2-3, but I was happy I was able to throw a scoreless inning and we were able to get the W here tonight. It's an incredible, incredible place to play."

Kela's inning of relief ended with Gregory Polanco throwing home from right field on a base hit from Paul DeJong. The Cardinals sent Matt Carpenter to score, but he was tagged out by Francisco Cervelli on a throw from Polanco that was clocked at 97 mph. Kela was sure to hug Cervelli on their way back to the dugout. 

"I've seen [Polanco] play on TV previous times. I know he has a pretty good arm and it was a short enough ball and great enough distance to where he could make an accurate throw and Francisco [Cervelli] made a great catch and we were able to get the out. It was awesome."

Cervelli seemed equally as impressed by Polanco's throw.

"I didn't move. It was perfect, probably the best throw he ever had in his life. Amazing."

Kela entered the league with the Rangers as a 22-year-old in 2015, but the team was looking to sell at the deadline, currently in last in the AL West. When the Rangers traded him for prospect pitcher Taylor Hearn and a player to be named later, Kela said he was excited to join a contender. 

"This team holds an ambiance about themselves and an aura about themselves in that black and yellow. I was excited to be able to come over here because I think this is a staple ball club in the game of Major League Baseball. I think that they have a great tradition, great guys that are committed to what they do everyday, day in, day out. I was just happy that I was able to come to a winning club with contention on the line." 

Though unlikely to replace Pirates All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez, Kela was one of the most efficient closers in the league for the Rangers, making 24 saves in 25 attempts. He adds a strong arm to the Pirates bullpen that has found Edgar Santana, Kyle Crick and Vazquez to be their late-inning relievers. Tonight, Santana relieved new Pirates starter Chris Archer in the fifth, followed by Richard Rodriguez, Kela, Crick and Vazquez who made his 25th save, setting a club record for the most saves by a left-handed pitcher in a single season.

Kela isn’t too concerned about his role just yet.

"I'm just ready to do whatever I got to do, whatever Clint Hurdle has me, whatever he needs me to do. If it's guys on second and third, righty's up, I'm ready to do it. I'm not really here looking for a role. I just want to win, that's the only role I want to have is just be here collective with the guys." 

Despite the whirlwind week that comes with being a part of a deal at the trade deadline, Kela said he had some time to explore Pittsburgh. So far, the city got positive reviews from the reliever. 

"I was able to wake up this morning, walk around and see the square, see the bustle of city. I love it. I love how people get down here in the Steel City. I'm excited to be a part of it."