SAN FRANCISCO — Jay Bruce and Joey Votto will take their hot bats up against one of baseball's worst pitchers against left-handed hitters Tuesday night when the Cincinnati Reds and San Francisco Giants meet for a second time in their three-game series.
Bruce bombed his 22nd and 23rd home runs of the season and Votto extended his hitting streak to 10 games since the All-Star break in the Reds' 7-5 win over the Giants in the series opener Monday night.
On Tuesday, the Reds will get an opportunity to tee off against Giants right-hander Matt Cain, who has struggled big-time against lefty swingers this season.
Cain has allowed a .352 batting average, fifth worst in the majors, against left-handed hitters in 2016. It is not the only area in which the 31-year-old has had more than his share of issues.
Cain has pitched into the seventh inning in just two of his 12 starts. One reason: Opponents are hitting a major-league-high .468 against him after his 75th pitch of a game.
In the last-place Reds, Cain will be facing a team with a 39-60 record. Such matchups have not worked in his favor this season, either.
Among qualifying starting pitchers, he has the majors' worst record (0-3) and eighth-worst ERA (6.66) against teams under .500.
Cain is coming off one of his worst efforts, when he was bombed for three home runs in just 2 1/3 innings in an 11-7 loss at Boston last Wednesday. He gave up six hits and five runs to the Red Sox, dropping his record to 1-6 while raising his ERA to 5.88.
With Jake Peavy adding three to the total in Monday's loss, the Giants have allowed a major-league-high 19 homers in their nine games since the All-Star break.
“The long ball is hurting us right now,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We just need to find a way to get a quality start.”
Cain's opponent on Tuesday will be Reds rookie Cody Reed, who has had troubles of his own this season. The left-hander is still searching for his first big-league win, as he is 0-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six starts.
Reed is one of just six pitchers who remain winless this season despite making six or more starts this year.
Unlike Cain, the 23-year-old could take some positive momentum into the game. Reed pitched his best game in his most recent outing, allowing just five hits and two unearned runs in six innings against the Atlanta Braves on July 19.
The Reds lost the game 5-4 in 11 innings.
Another positive for Reed is that he will be backed by a hot bullpen. Right-handers Jumbo Diaz and Raisel Iglesias and lefty closer Tony Cingrani retired 12 of the 13 batters they faced to save right-hander Anthony DeSclafani's win in Monday's series opener.
The Cincinnati bullpen has compiled a fine 2.42 ERA in the month of July.
“We talk about it a lot … the pitching staff we envision,” Reds manager Bryan Price said after Monday's win. “We're getting closer.”
Reed has never faced the Giants. His .311 batting average allowed is the 19th worst in the majors for guys with at least six starts, and only slightly lower than Cain's .316, which is No. 16 on the list.
Reed allowed at least one homer in every start except his most recent. Eight of the nine homers he served up came in just 107 at-bats against righty hitters.
His .327 average allowed to righties is the 16th highest in the majors for pitchers with six or more starts.
The Reds enter the game as one of baseball's hottest teams since the All-Star break, having won seven of 10.
The Giants, on the other hand, have lost eight of nine.