Harang will try to set a new career high for wins in a season as the Reds (71-84) play their final road game of 2007 on Sunday against the San Francisco Giants.
The right-hander is 8-1 with a 3.91 ERA in 15 road starts this season, but the lone loss came during interleague play to in-state rival Cleveland in May. With a win in this game, Harang (16-4, 3.61 ERA) would become just the fourth NL pitcher since 1957 to finish a season unbeaten on the road while recording at least eight wins there.
“If you give me one guy for one start, I can’t name anybody in this league I’d take over (Harang),” Cincinnati reliever David Weathers told the Reds’ official Web site. “We lean on him. He delivers,”
Harang matched his personal best in wins Tuesday, when he gave up two runs and six hits over seven innings of a 5-2 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Last season, Harang won 16 games and the Reds went 20-16 when he pitched. This year, Cincinnati is 24-8 in Harang’s 32 starts.
“It definitely shows that I’m out there trying to compete. The guys know I’m out there battling for them,” said Harang, who also needs two strikeouts to reach 200 for the second straight year.
He improved to 3-4 with a 3.88 ERA in his career against San Francisco after posting a win on July 3 at home despite allowing a season-high six walks in six innings of the Reds’ 7-3 victory.
Travis Blackley will make his season debut for San Francisco (68-87). The Australian-born left-hander will be pitching in his first major league game since 2004, when he was 1-3 with a 10.04 ERA in six starts with Seattle.
“This is a great opportunity for him,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “It allows him to show what he can do in the major leagues, it allows us to take a look at him. Anytime you get this opportunity, you hope the pitcher takes advantage of it.”
San Francisco acquired Blackley on April 1 from the Mariners for outfielder Jason Ellison, now with the Reds. On Friday, the Giants recalled Blackley from Triple-A Fresno. He led the Grizzlies with 162 1-3 innings pitched, and was 10-8 with a 4.66 ERA.
The Giants snapped a four-game skid with a 2-0 win over the Reds on Saturday. Pinch-hitter Ray Durham’s two-out single in the eighth scored Rich Aurilia and Pedro Feliz to provide all of the offense in the contest.
Six players had one hit each for the Reds, who were shut out for only the fourth time this season.
Barry Bonds, whose 15-year career with San Francisco will end this season after the Giants announced Friday they would not bring the seven-time NL MVP back in 2008, missed his seventh straight game with a sprained toe on his right foot. Bochy hopes the all-time home run leader will be back before Wednesday’s home finale, to have one final game in San Francisco.
“You just want the opportunity for Barry and for the fans to connect one more time before he says goodbye,” Bochy said. “That would be a special moment.”