The San Francisco Giants are home for another Orange Friday, hosting the Cincinnati Reds tonight at AT&T Park. First pitch is 7:15 PT as RHP Johnny Cueto (7-5, 1.86 ERA) takes the hill for the Reds against LHP Madison Bumgarner (9-4, 2.63 ERA) for the Giants.
The Reds took the first game of this 4-game series last night 3-1. It marked the sixth-straight series in which the Giants dropped the first game. The good news from last night was that Adam Duvall hit a home run for his first major league hit. He was the 13th Giants player since 1919 to record a HR as his first hit during his first game in the majors. The last Giants player to do that was Brett Pill back in September of 2011.
Following Bruce Bochy‘s on again, off again rule about starting the game after hitting a homer, Duvall gets the nod at 1st base. The other rookie gets a day off as Brandon Hicks will start at second base and Joe Panik has the night off. The lineups for tonight’s game.
Johnny Cueto of the Reds has been on fire this season. He leads all of baseball in ERA (1.86) and opponents batting average against (.173). He’s also tops in the NL with 119 strikeouts.
Over his last 3 starts Cueto is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA. He has struck out 22 batters over 20 innings in those 3 starts, including sitting down 12 Dodgers in only 6 innings on June 11th.
The Giants struck out 13 times last night, so it’s fair to say Cueto will probably rack some up this evening.
The Giants haven’t faced Cueto since he left Game 1 of the 2012 NLDS in the first inning. Hunter Pence has faced him the most going 8-for-29 with 11 K’s lifetime against the Reds right-hander.
Buster Posey has 3 hits in 4 at bats against Cueto and Pablo Sandoval is only 1-for-9 against him. Surprisingly neither has ever struck out against Cueto. In 28 innings against the Giants, Cueto has never allowed a home run.
Madison Bumgarner is no slouch himself. He has put together a nice season and is coming off one of his best starts last week in Arizona. In that game he only allowed 1 unearned run on 2 hits in just over 8 innings of work as the Giants won 4-1.
Bumgarner is tied for third behind Cueto for the NL strikeout lead with 111 of his own. When it counts Bumgarner has been lights out. Opponents are hitting a paltry .183 against him with runners in scoring position.
Joey Votto gets the day off, but no such luck for Jay Bruce. Lifetime Bruce is 1-for-12 against Bumgarner with 4 K’s. Billy Hamilton was kept in check the last time Bumgarner faced the Reds going 0-for-3.
The momentum of the starting staff needs to continue to roll if the Giants are to break out of this. They have gone 4-12 over their last 16 games, the worst record in the majors. The lead over the Dodgers has shrunk to 2 games, the smallest lead they have had since May 20. In fact, the division lead has dropped 7.5 games over the last 18 days.