TOLEDO, OHIO - Mitch Keller shined through 5.0 innings with a career-high 13 strikeouts, but two late runs pushed the Mud Hens past the Indians on Friday night, 3-1. The 23-year-old Keller fanned the side four times and retired 15 of the last 16 he faced in a no-decision.
Toledo (24-34) evened the series with two runs in the eighth off Dovydas Neverauskas (L, 1-1). The first two batters reached on a walk and base hit before a double steal that set up a Dustin Peterson sacrifice fly. Kody Eaves added a two-out RBI single for insurance.
Jose Cisnero (S, 4) retired the side in the ninth for the save.
Indianapolis (34-24) lost for just the third time in its last 15 road games. Indy's lone run came in the eighth on a Kevin Kramer game-tying single that backed a Ke'Bryan Hayes triple to the base of the wall in dead center. The Indians went just 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Keller's outing began with a shaky start; he surrendered a leadoff single to Danny Woodrow and issued consecutive walks to Daniel Pinero and Willi Castro to load the bases with no outs. With a pitcher warming in the Tribe bullpen, the Pirates top prospect switched gears. He caught Victor Reyes looking at a 1-2 curveball for his first punchout and then blew away Peterson and Eaves in succession.
Keller rolled his momentum into the second with strikeouts of Daz Cameron, Jake Rogers and Woodrow, working around a four-pitch walk to Jacob Robson. He picked up strikeouts No. 7, 8 and 9 in the third on 13 total pitches and topped that feat with three more whiffs in the fourth on just 11 pitches.
Rogers snapped Keller's string of 12 strikeouts in a 13-batter stretch with a flyout to right to begin the fifth. Keller regained form with a strikeout of Robson, giving him at least one strikeout against every Mud Hens batter. He struck out Reyes, Peterson, Eaves and Cameron two times apiece. His outing was complete at 92 pitches following a groundout by Woodrow to first base to end the fifth.
Keller became the first Tribe pitcher with at least 13 strikeouts in a game since Ian Snell had 17 in 7.0 innings pitched against the Mud Hens on June 28, 2009 at Victory Field.
Will Craig extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a leadoff double that opened the sixth.
The Indians and Mud Hens play a scheduled doubleheader on Saturday with game one beginning at 5:05 p.m. ET. Eduardo Vera (3-4, 6.56) will face Gregory Soto (0-0, 10.80) in the opener. Both games will be seven innings.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.