MLB

Improving Athletics look for second straight win vs. Pirates

Apr 30, 2024, 8:06 AM | Updated: 8:07 am

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 29: Nick Allen #10 of the Oakland Athletics turns a double play as Jack...

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Veteran pitchers will go head-to-head for the third time in their careers when Alex Wood and the Oakland Athletics host Mitch Keller and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night in the second contest of a three-game series.

Riding the momentum of four wins over the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles on the road last week, the A’s opened a 10-game homestand with arguably their best all-around performance of the season in a 5-1 win Monday.

Joe Boyle combined with two relievers on a two-hitter and five different A’s batters contributed extra-base hits. Oakland mastered three other aspects of the game by turning three double plays, stealing two bases in two tries and using sacrifice flies to drive in three of its five runs.

Athletics vs. Pirates Preview

Afterward, manager Mark Kotsay took time to applaud a two-run, go-ahead fourth inning in which sacrifice flies did the damage.

“To score two runs without getting a hit (after a leadoff single and double), those are good signs — signs that we continue to talk about,” Kotsay said. “To be a successful offensive team, we have to do fundamental things correctly. We capitalized that inning.”

The A’s are improving. At 13-17, they are playing at a .433 clip. They were 50-112 (.309) last season.

Wood (1-2, 6.59 ERA) was one of the Oakland winners on the East Coast last week, tossing the first 5 2/3 innings of a 3-1 win at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. The outing was the left-hander’s best of the season.

Wood, who spent 11 seasons in the National League before moving on to Oakland this season, has faced the Pirates 16 times in his career, 15 times as a starter, and compiled a 6-4 record with a 3.66 ERA.

The 33-year-old will get an opportunity to rekindle a decade-long duel with 37-year-old Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen.

They first squared off on Aug. 20, 2014, when Wood was pitching for the Atlanta Braves against the Pirates. Wood has gotten much the better of his battles, limiting McCutchen to 7-for-37 (.189) with one home run and three RBIs.

One Pirate with whom Wood isn’t very familiar is shortstop Oneil Cruz. They have gone head-to-head just three times, with Wood recording two strikeouts and a flyball out on an 0-for-3 night on Aug. 14, 2022.

Cruz has hits in his last seven starts, including going 1-for-4 on Monday, but McCutchen said he knows a more powerful streak looms for his teammate.

“We know what he’s capable of doing,” McCutchen said of the 25-year-old, who hasn’t homered since April 13 and has three on the season. “Sometimes, we just get a little ahead of ourselves because we know that he’s a special talent and you see the potential of what he can do. But sometimes you just got to be patient with him.”

Cruz played only nine games in 2023 after suffering a season-ending leg injury last April. In 87 games in 2022, Cruz had 13 doubles, four triples, 17 homers and 54 RBIs.

Keller (2-2, 5.14) has never pitched in the A’s ballpark. He has faced Oakland just once in his career, taking the loss in an 11-2 shellacking at home last June, a game in which he allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings.

The right-hander has allowed four runs in each of his past two starts, home losses to the Boston Red Sox and Milwaukee Brewers. The 28-year-old has served up a home run in three straight games.

–Field Level Media

Upcoming schedule for the Oakland Athletics

  • Monday, April 29-Wednesday, May 1st – vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
  • Friday, May 3rd-Sunday, May 5th – vs. Miami Marlins
  • Monday, May 6th-Wednesday, May 8th – vs. Texas Rangers
  • Friday, May 10th-Sunday, May 12th – @ Seattle Mariners
  • Monday, May 13th-Thursday, May 16th – @ Houston Astros

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