After watching his team overcome adversity to earn a long-awaited postseason win, Bronson Arroyo will try to help the Cincinnati Reds take a commanding lead over the San Francisco Giants while ending a pair of personal droughts.
To get his first playoff victory and his first-ever win in San Francisco on Sunday night, Arroyo might have to outduel Madison Bumgarner who has an impressive record at AT&T Park over the past two seasons.
Cincinnati snapped a seven-game postseason losing streak dating back to 1995 in Game 1 on Saturday despite 19-game winner Johnny Cueto’s first-inning exit with back spasms.
Brandon Phillips homered off Matt Cain ending one of the longest streaks in major league history. The Giants ace hadn’t allowed an earned run in 23 1-3 postseason innings, the fifth-longest such stretch.
Phillips had three hits and drove in three runs while Jay Bruce added a solo shot.
“I feel really proud about my team,” Cueto said. “They all came in and did their job.”
Arroyo (12-10, 3.74 ERA) might seem an unlikely starter for Game 2 since his teams have lost in each of the six games he’s pitched in San Francisco. He’s 0-4 with a 4.11 ERA over those outings, although he gave up two runs in six frames in a no-decision there July 1.
Arroyo, 3-5 with a 2.93 ERA in 11 overall starts against the Giants, allowed two runs over five innings against San Francisco on April 25 in Cincinnati. He also did not get a decision in that 4-2 win.
Reds manager Dusty Baker thought his 35-year-old right-hander might have a better chance of keeping the ball in the yard at AT&T Park than at Cincinnati’s cozier Great American Ball Park. Arroyo gave up a major league-high 46 homers in 2011 but decreased that to 26 this year.
“That’s probably the biggest debate of all, how you set your rotation,” Baker said. “We debated with that, and we decided to come up with that because our ballpark is a tiny ballpark, and Arroyo has a tendency sometimes to give up home runs. … If it works, you’re great. If it doesn’t work, then it’s, ‘Why didn’t you have somebody else?’”
Arroyo has no record and a 6.08 ERA in three postseason starts, the most recent in Game 2 of the 2010 division series in Philadelphia.
His counterpart for this game, meanwhile, has been sharp in the postseason.
As a rookie in 2010, Bumgarner went 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA during the Giants’ championship run, including eight innings in a 4-0 victory in Game 4 of the World Series against Texas. San Francisco won all four games in which he pitched, and may continue that trend if the left-hander can extend his success at home.
The 23-year-old Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37) is 18-4 with a 2.15 ERA in his last 25 starts at AT&T Park and the Giants have won 20 of those games. He tossed a one-hitter with eight strikeouts against visiting Cincinnati on June 28, his only shutout in 84 major league starts.
Bumgarner is hoping to regroup after going 2-4 with a 5.89 ERA in his last seven regular-season starts.
“I got out of my mechanics a little bit and that was pretty much it,” he told the Giants’ official website. “Once you get in the postseason you can’t think about mechanics, can’t think about any of that. You just got to go out there and compete with whatever you got, and try and keep us in the game, and give us a chance.”
Bumgarner is 1-2 with a 5.16 ERA in four all-time starts against the Reds.
The Giants, who never dropped back-to-back playoff games en route to their 2010 title, got a home run from Buster Posey in Game 1, but they went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.