The Oakland Athletics will go for a series win against the host Pittsburgh Pirates when they play the finale of a three-game series on Wednesday, and that would be no small feat.
The A's, the worst team in the major leagues, picked up just their 13th victory on Tuesday with a rare blowout that went their way, as Oakland won 11-2. The result ended a five-game losing streak and allowed the Athletics to avoid setting an Oakland-era franchise record -- a loss would have made it 16 in a row on the road.
A victory on Wednesday would give Oakland back-to-back wins for just the third time this season.
On Tuesday, A's second baseman Jace Peterson went from potential scapegoat to hero. His error on what could have been a double play allowed Pittsburgh to take a 1-0 lead in the first -- the sort of thing that has caused Oakland to enter a downward spiral in so many games this year.
However, Peterson then had himself a night at the plate, going 5-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs.
"Baseball's a crazy game, and you've got to try to stay as even-keeled as you can," Peterson told NBC Sports California. "It's always fun when you can get some hits in a game like that. I was pretty upset (about the error) ... but fortunately it worked out and we got the win."
And it came after a 5-4 loss in the series opener.
Before Tuesday's game, Oakland recalled shortstop Kevin Smith from Triple-A Las Vegas for the second time this season. A's manager Mark Kotsay said Smith, who had one at-bat during the 11-2 victory, could start getting consistent playing time as soon as Wednesday.
"For Kevin, this is another go-at-that opportunity to solidify that position," Kotsay said.
Pittsburgh had its six-game winning streak halted on Tuesday.
Not only that, but Pirates ace Mitch Keller had one of his worst starts of 2023, and the bullpen was even worse.
"You can't look at their record," Keller said of the A's. "They're still major league hitters. They're good enough to be here for a reason."
In the series finale, Oakland left-hander Hogan Harris (0-0, 6.97 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pittsburgh right-hander Roansy Contreras (3-4, 4.82).
Harris, who has never faced the Pirates, will be making his first career start after three relief appearances this season, his first in the majors. He has 10 strikeouts in 10 1/3 innings.
In his most recent outing, Harris surrendered two runs on five hits in five innings against the Miami Marlins on Friday. He did not issue a walk and fanned five.
Harris' ERA is skewed by a forgettable big-league debut on April 14, when he allowed six runs in one-third of an inning against the New York Mets.
Contreras, who has never opposed the A's, will be making his second start since getting moved between the rotation and bullpen. He was slated to be a reliever but made just one appearance in that role before he was turned back into a starter because of an injury to Vince Velasquez.
In his return to the rotation, Contreras gave up five runs in four innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. He did not record a decision.
--Field Level Media