After going unbeaten last month, Madison Bumgarner enters June looking to pick up where he left off.
Mike Leake is also coming off a terrific May, and he's been especially good against the San Francisco Giants.Seeking a career-best sixth consecutive win, Bumgarner takes the mound opposite Leake as the Giants wrap up a three-game road set against the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.Bumgarner (7-3, 2.85 ERA) was named National League pitcher of the month for May after going 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA over six starts. He racked up 48 strikeouts and walked five over 39 innings while holding opponents to a .203 average."I feel like I'm always concentrating on trying to get better and working on stuff," he told MLB's official website. "I'm glad to see it paying off."The left-hander, coming off back-to-back 10-strikeout efforts, yielded three hits over seven scoreless innings in Friday's 9-4 win at St. Louis."He was really good," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He was really hitting his spots on both sides. He's really been solid with his command here lately and he carried that into today's game against a tough lineup."Bumgarner is 1/3 with a 5.67 ERA in five starts against the Reds (27-30). He hasn't faced them since a rough showing in the 2012 NL division series, but his lone win came in a one-hitter -- his only career shutout -- in June earlier that year.Bumgarner has made things difficult on Jay Bruce, holding him to one hit in 11 at-bats in their matchups. Bruce is 5 for 35 with 11 strikeouts against southpaws this year.Leake (3-4, 2.92) went 1-2 despite a 2.16 ERA in six starts last month. The right-hander had been backed by a combined six runs of support in the first five of those outings before receiving five in Friday's 6-4 victory at Arizona."It definitely helped me relax a little bit and allowed me to attack their hitters a little more," said Leake, who allowed four runs -- three earned -- in six innings.Leake has also pitched well against San Francisco (38-21), winning four straight regular-season starts in the series behind a 0.92 ERA. However, he will need to be careful against Pablo Sandoval, who is 9 for 16 with two homers and three doubles in their matchups, including playoffs. Hunter Pence is 7 for his last 15 against Leake.Leake will try to slow down a Giants team that's won 10 of 13 following Wednesday's 3-2 victory. Juan Perez hit at two-run homer and Michael Morse added a solo shot, his team-leading 12th this season.Perez, making his fourth start, entered the game 1 for 21 before collecting two hits."He's probably had the toughest job of anybody since he's been here because he doesn't get many starts," Bochy said. "Perez came through for us."Morse is 13 for his last 31 with 10 extra-base hits and 10 RBIs. Sandoval, 0 for 7 over the last two days, is 4 for 32 in nine games against the Reds since the start of last year.Cincinnati had won a season-high four straight before coming up short. Billy Hamilton had three hits but the Reds went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.Hamilton has hit safely in six straight, going 10 for 25 with four stolen bases and four runs.
Madison Bumgarner pitched a gem Thursday, allowing just 3 hits and 1 run over 8 innings, as the Giants defeated the Reds. Bumgarner has made 3 consecutive starts of at least 7 innings and has allowed no more than 3 hits and one earned run in any of them.
Opposing hitters have a .096 ISO against Madison Bumgarner's slider in 2014, which is 26 points below the league average among qualified pitchers. Zack Cozart has a .030 ISO against sliders this season, which is 97 points below the league average among qualified hitters.