After struggling to score at times during their third-place finish in 2013, the San Francisco Giants have been one of the majors' most explosive offensive clubs early this season.
The Giants hope to continue their hot start Sunday night when they try to win for the eighth time in nine meetings with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who could be without Yasiel Puig.San Francisco went through its share of slumps last season, ranking 21st with 629 runs and 29th in home runs with 107 en route to its first losing season since 2008.It's been a much different story for the Giants (5-1) this season. They've scored at least seven runs in four of six games, leaving them among the major league leaders with 38 runs and nine homers.New addition Michael Morse hit a solo homer in the fourth inning Saturday before Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey added back-to-back shots in the fifth in a 7-2 victory at Dodger Stadium."It's nice to have that kind of support," winning pitcher Madison Bumgarner said. "It makes it easier to go after guys and challenge them."Angel Pagan (11 for 27), Posey (8 for 21) and Brandon Belt (three HRs, six RBIs) are swinging the bats well for San Francisco, which has won four in a row. The Giants haven't started 6-1 since its World Series championship season in 2010.Adrian Gonzalez (4 for 24), Puig (6 for 24), A.J. Ellis (4 for 24) and Hanley Ramirez (5 for 26) are off to slow starts for the Dodgers (4-3), who have been outscored 52-22 while losing seven of the last eight meetings.Puig went 1 for 4 and was caught off first in the third inning Saturday after he was benched for arriving late to the home opener.Now the right fielder could be held out of the finale after injuring his thumb while sliding head-first on an infield single before getting picked off. He played the rest of the game before getting X-rays."I got treatment and we'll see the results and how I feel and they'll check to see if I can play," Puig told the team's official website.San Francisco's Matt Cain (0-0, 3.60 ERA) seeks his first win after giving up two earned runs over five innings in a 5-4 loss at Arizona on Tuesday. The Giants have dropped his last six starts dating to a 6-4 win at Miami on Aug. 17.Although Cain has limited the Dodgers to two runs or less in seven of his last eight meetings, the right-hander has only won two of those starts while getting 18 runs of support.Gonzalez (20 for 69) and Andre Ethier (30 for 68) have seen Cain more than any other opposing batter. Gonzalez is just 2 for 13 in the matchup the past two seasons, but Ethier has gone 8 for 21 (.381) over the last three.Former San Francisco infielder Juan Uribe is 5 for 11 when facing Cain since 2012. He's also gone 10 for 25 this season since going hitless in the opener.Los Angeles counters with Zach Greinke (1-0, 3.60), who hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in his last 13 starts dating to last season. The right-hander is 8-1 with 1.70 ERA over that span.One of those outings came at home against the Giants on Sept. 12, when he gave up one earned run over six innings in a 3-2, 10-inning victory.
Matt Kemp: 6th career multi-HR game; 1st since Sept. 29, 2012
* 5 of the 6 games have come against NL West opponents (vs SF, vs SD, 3 vs COL)
Matt Cain allowed 14 home runs against his fastball in 2013, which was seventh most in the National League among pitchers to make at least 20 starts. Hanley Ramirez generated home runs at a 5.4 percent clip, which was 2.3 percent better than the National League average against fastballs from right-handed pitchers. Ramirez teammate Adrian Gonzalez generated home runs in 4.7 percent of these instances.
Puig will miss his 5th career game; 4 have been due to injury.