MLB Game of Day

CINCINNATI REDS (41-33) at SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (43-33) Line & Total: San Francisco -126 & 6 flat

Two red-hot pitchers, Johnny Cueto and Madison Bumgarner, collide when Cincinnati opens a four-game set in San Francisco on Thursday night.

The Giants pitching was unbelievable in their just-completed, three-game sweep of the Dodgers, posting three straight shutouts, 8-0, 2-0 and 3-0. That gives them five wins in the past six games, and this pitching dominance doesn’t bode well for the Reds, who are just 3-6 in their past three series, surpassing four runs just twice in this span. However, Cueto doesn’t need a whole lot of run support by the way he’s dominated in his past three outings (25 IP, 2 ER, 24 K, 2 BB). Bumgarner is coming off a poor outing in Oakland (6 IP, 11 H, 4 ER), but he’s been money at AT&T Park this season (2.27 ERA, 0.99 WHIP), fanning 39 and walking just three in these 43.2 home innings.

Cueto (9-3, 2.21 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) absolutely owned the San Francisco Giants last season, throwing 16 shutout innings over two starts, giving up just seven hits and three walks, while fanning 14 batters. He’s helped the Reds post a 10-7 record in the past three years against Thursday’s foe. Cueto has also been one of the best road warriors in baseball in 2012, going 4-2 with a 2.15 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Cincinnati is 11-4 in his 15 starts this season with some of the credit going to the strong bullpen that has a 2.74 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 234 K in 206.2 IP. Reds relievers have been even more productive on the road (2.60 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 104 K in 90 IP). One player that won’t likely be able to help Cueto is 2B Brandon Phillips who was hit in the head by a forearm while covering second base on Wednesday. He was tested for a concussion and will probably sit on Thursday as a precaution. Phillips has a .359 BA, 4 HR and 15 RBI in his past 16 games.

Bumgarner (9-4, 3.10 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) has had mixed results in his three lifetime outings versus Cincinnati. In 2010, the Reds lit him up for eight runs (7 ER) and three homers in just 2.2 innings. But last season, he limited them to just one run in seven innings at home before pitching poorly in Cincinnati seven weeks later (4 IP, 7 R, 5 ER). The Giants are 10-5 when Bumgarner takes the mound this year, including a 5-1 record at home. He has won four straight decisions, and that streak has been aided by a bullpen that has a strong 3.48 ERA, saving 30-of-36 chances. These numbers are even more phenomenal at AT&T Park: 2.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 17 saves, one blown save.