Pittsburgh right-hander Bryse Wilson is scheduled to make the first California start of his five-year career when he gets the daunting task of dueling All-Star Carlos Rodon as the Pirates open a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.
The Pirates flew into San Francisco on Thursday night after suffering their second straight series loss on a three-city trip. After dropping two of three at Baltimore, the Pirates lost three of four in Arizona, including 9-3 in the series finale Thursday afternoon.
Pittsburgh still has a chance at a break-even trip, but that would require a three-game sweep in San Francisco against a Giants team that ventured east and took two of three from the Pirates in June.
Reliever Chase De Jong, who suffered his first loss of the season Thursday in Arizona after four wins, insists that the Pirates, who are battling the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds for third place in the National League Central, haven't thrown in any towels.
"Losing (stinks)," he assured. "We played pretty well (in the Arizona series). We were in a lot of games. It comes down to small execution of details."
The Pirates haven't finished as high as third place since 2016.
Wilson (2-6, 5.86 ERA) will attempt to get the revenge series off on a positive note. He has pitched well in his last two starts, limiting the Milwaukee Brewers and Orioles to a total of four runs and 10 hits in 10 1/3 innings.
His 8-1 win at Baltimore on Sunday accounted for one of the Pirates' two wins on the trip. He allowed one run and four hits in five innings to snap a personal four-game winless streak.
Wilson, 24, has never faced the Giants, but he will see a club stinging from a total of 10 losses in 11 games against the NL West's top two teams -- the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres -- since the All-Star break.
Even as the West's third-place team, a shot at one of this year's three wild-card berths remains within the club's reach, especially with an upcoming schedule that will see them play the Pirates, Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers exclusively in their next 12 games.
"We can't wait any longer," said third baseman Evan Longoria, who has just two singles and a sacrifice fly to show for 10 plate appearances since returning from a hamstring injury last week.
"As games start to dwindle, the losses start to become a lot bigger, and the wins for that matter, too. The pieces are there. We just have to keep our heads down and stay healthy."
Rodon (10-6, 2.95), a left-hander, pitched a 2-0 win in the series opener in Pittsburgh, allowing just two hits in eight innings. He has gone 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three career starts against the Pirates.
The 29-year-old has won his last two starts, limiting the Cubs and Oakland Athletics to one run and seven hits in 12 1/3 innings.
--Field Level Media