Giants-Braves Preview

BY foxsports • June 2, 2016

Madison Bumgarner is regularly dominating again, and even during those rare moments when he isn't, the left-hander finds a way to get himself out of a jam.

It's something young Aaron Blair should take note of from the opposite dugout.

The San Francisco Giants have won their ace's previous seven starts and will look to extend that streak Thursday against Blair and the host Atlanta Braves.

Bumgarner (6-2, 2.12 ERA) had a 4.50 ERA through his first three outings but hasn't allowed more than two earned runs in any of the eight since, including his last defeat April 20. He's gone 5-0 with a 1.28 ERA during the club's unbeaten streak with him on the mound after allowing a run in six innings of Saturday's 10-5 win at Colorado.

He took a no-decision but escaped unscathed in the sixth after loading the bases with no one out. Bumgarner has allowed three runs with a 0.82 WHIP in 29 1/3 innings over his last four outings.

"I can't say enough about what Bum did. What a gutty effort," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He willed his way through that sixth inning. What a jam he was in."

Bumgarner has been fantastic against the Braves in recent years, too. He's 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings over his last six starts against them after going 7 1/3 innings of a 6-1 victory Aug. 5 in Atlanta.

Blair (0-3, 6.67) surely could take some lessons from the former World Series MVP. The rookie is still seeking his first victory since making his major league debut April 24, but he pitched well Saturday in Atlanta's 7-2 win over Miami and took a no-decision after allowing two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

It was far better than his previous outing when Pittsburgh roughed him up for nine runs in just 1 1/3 innings May 17. The Braves sent him down to Triple-A the next day but recalled him after Erick Aybar went on the disabled list.

"After (Saturday), I'm really looking forward to seeing his next start," interim manager Brian Snitker said.

The 24-year-old Blair, one of the Braves' top pitching prospects, said he spent his one start in the minors working on his mechanics.

"I had a good feel of the changeup from the beginning," Blair said. "Curveball was there when I needed it. Fastball command was there when I needed it, unlike (against the Pirates) where everything was up and middle of the plate."

The right-hander will get his first look at the Giants (33-22), who had won 15 of 17 before dropping two of three to the league-worst Braves. They led 4-1 through 5 1/2 innings Wednesday before coming apart, including Santiago Casilla blowing his fourth save by allowing the tying run in the ninth.

Freddie Freeman led off the 11th with a homer to give Atlanta (16-36) a 5-4 victory a night after being one-hit.

San Francisco also might've lost Hunter Pence again. Pence returned Saturday after being out of the starting lineup for six straight because of a right hamstring problem, then left in the fourth inning with the same injury after running out a grounder. It seems likely Pence will be out for this one and possibly longer.

The Giants still will have Brandon Belt, who hit a two-run homer and is 10 for 21 over his last five.



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