The 10-2 win by the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday was the second-biggest win that a Dusty Baker managed team has had against the San Francisco Giants since he left the franchise following the 2002 season.
His biggest win against them was a 10-1 win in April of 2008. The winning pitcher that day was Edinson Volquez, Sunday night’s starter.
Volquez did not have as much luck in his last start against the Giants. Last August, he went just ⅔ of an inning allowing five earned runs, the most he's allowed in the first inning in any start of his career. That also was the shortest start of Volquez’s career.
This will be particularly interesting to watch on Sunday night as Volquez’s biggest struggles this season have been early in games.
He has a 16.36 ERA in the first inning. Once he gets though the first, his ERA drops to 3.26. He’s allowed six home runs in the first inning (tied for most in MLB), and just three the rest of the game.
Twice this season, Volquez has allowed back-to-back homers to a team’s first two batters of a game. Only two other active pitchers have had two such games in their careers: Chad Durbin (both in 2000) and Ted Lilly (2001 and 2005).
The struggles led to a demotion on May 23 for Volquez, who was the Reds' opening day starter. In his first start following the demotion, he improved upon his early struggles, striking out two in a scoreless first inning.
Volquez will be happy to see one familiar face on the Giants. That’s Cody Ross, who is 0-for-8 in his career against Volquez with two strikeouts.
The only hitters with more at-bats without a hit against Volquez are Geoff Blum and Carlos Lee (0-for-12). Ross only has one pitcher against whom he has more at-bats without a single hit. He’s 0-for-10 against Tommy Hanson.
2011 NL Ranks vs LHP
Opposing Volquez will be Jonathan Sanchez, who has posted the lowest opponent batting average by any pitcher since 2010. So why isn’t he among the elite pitchers in the game? He has also walked 141 batters during that span, by far the most in the majors.
More bad news for Sanchez, no National League team has handled lefties better this season than the Reds. In fact Cincinnati’s batting average against left-handed pitchers is best in all of the majors.
This hasn’t translated to victories though as even with this hot hitting, the Reds are just 7-6 against lefty starters.