Amid change in the front office and a poor start, Baker looks to lead the Reds to their first win in three games as they open a three-game set with the Giants on Friday night.
Baker has had a largely successful career as a manger, which began in 1993 when he guided San Francisco to a 103-59 record en route to winning NL manager of the year. His first season with Cincinnati, however, may turn into a rebuilding year.
The Reds (9-14) lost 5-3 to Houston on Thursday, leaving them in last place in the NL Central. Cincinnati, which has lost 10 of its last 13, is off to its worst start since going 8-15 in 2003.
On Wednesday, Reds owner Bob Castellini fired general manager Wayne Krivsky and replaced him with Walt Jocketty. But Castellini seems to be leaning toward giving Baker time to settle down.
“It’s very important,” said Baker, who was hired in October. “Good organizations keep a lot of the same people for a good length of time.”
In order to have any chance to change Cincinnati’s fortunes, Baker needs Aaron Harang (1-2, 2.83 ERA) to continue to be a cornerstone for his pitching staff. The veteran right-hander, who will make his sixth start Friday, has given up two earned runs or less in four of his outings.
Harang allowed one run and four hits while striking out a season-high eight in eight innings against Milwaukee on Sunday, but he did not receive a decision as Cincinnati won 4-3.
Harang went 1-1 with a 5.54 ERA in two starts versus the Giants last season, and is 3-5 with a 4.20 ERA in nine career starts.
San Francisco will counter with Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 4.50 ERA), who is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his last three starts after opening the season by giving up seven runs in a loss to Milwaukee on April 4. The left-hander allowed two hits in five innings to earn a win as San Francisco beat St. Louis 8-2 on Sunday.
Sanchez’s only start against the Reds was on Sept. 9, 2006, allowing one run and three hits while striking out seven in 5 2-3 innings as the Giants won 3-2.
Sanchez will try to help San Francisco, which just completed a 4-3 road trip, match a season high with three straight wins.
Rich Aurilia homered in the seventh inning to give the Giants a 1-0 win over San Diego on Thursday night, completing a two-game sweep of the Padres. It was the first homer by a San Francisco corner infielder.
“Everything gets magnified early in the season when you don’t have the numbers,” said Aurilia, who’s batting .197 with five RBIs. “I’ve been through this before.”
The Giants won despite collecting just four hits. Playing without Randy Winn didn’t help their lineup. The right fielder sat out with a stiff neck, and manager Bruce Bochy said his status is day-to-day.
Winn hit just .150 (3-for-20) in six games against the Reds last season. San Francisco won four of seven games against Cincinnati in 2007.
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