Giants send 3rd ex-Reds pitcher against them in quest for sweep


For the third straight game, San Francisco will start a pitcher against his former team as the Giants look to complete a rare four-game sweep in Cincinnati. The Giants can only hope that Johnny Cueto will be as successful as Anthony DeSclafani and Kevin Gausman before him.

Cueto (2-1, 3.62 ERA) looks for a second strong performance against the Reds this season. On April 14 in San Francisco, he allowed no runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out four and walking none in San Francisco’s 3-0 win.

He left that win after only 68 pitches due to a lat strain, which ended up sidelining him for more than three weeks.

Cueto has not returned to form, lasting just three innings while giving up five runs in a loss to the Padres on May 9, and 4 1/3 innings on May 15 at Pittsburgh. In the later start, he allowed eight hits but only two runs in an eventual 8-6 Giants’ loss.

“I think any time somebody has to come off the field for any injury reason, I’m always going to have some concern,” Kapler said at the time. “In this case, Johnny’s been throwing the ball so well. We all had visions in the dugout of that being another deep-into-the-game Johnny Cueto start. He just looked outstanding and totally in control.”

Looking to avoid the four-game sweep, the Reds will counter with right-hander Tyler Mahle (2-1, 2.93), their most effective starter. The Giants and Cueto handed Mahle his only loss this season, and the Reds are 6-2 in Mahle’s eight starts.

In the series, San Francisco’s starters have been totally in control, allowing just one run in 19 innings.

The Giants have the best ERA among starting pitchers in baseball at 2.58 and a combined record of 19-6. Both numbers have powered the Giants to the best record in the majors at 27-16 and to first place in the NL West ahead of the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Giants have been in first place for 24 straight days, their longest-run of consecutive days in first place since a 93-day streak from mid-May to mid-August 2016.

Wednesday marked the second straight game that the Reds did not have the services of Mike Moustakas (shoulder/heel) and Nick Senzel (knee) in the starting lineup. Both, according to Reds manager David Bell, were available off the bench Wednesday but did not appear in Cincinnati’s 4-0 loss.

Already struggling with Joey Votto on the injured list with a broken thumb, Moustakas has not started a game since Friday in Colorado, while Senzel tweaked his knee Monday diving for a ball down the third-base line.

Senzel missed one game in Colorado on Friday and came off the bench the following day because of a bruised left heel. He exited a couple of games earlier this season with injuries as well. But on Tuesday, Bell said Senzel was dealing with a sore knee.

“He’s dealt with a few different things. He had a bit of a groin injury, a shoulder. He’s getting through both of those. A little bit of knee soreness last night, and that’s why he’s not in the lineup today,” Bell said. “Nothing serious, thankfully, because he’s playing great. He’ll be back in a matter of a day or two into the lineup, but he’s available.”

–Field Level Media

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