The Reds and Giants wrap up their four-game series with Cincinnati in position to win the series 3-1 with a victory tonight. First pitch is slated for 8:05 PM ET at AT&T Park with national television coverage on ESPN.

Edinson VolquezEdinson Volquez (4-2, 5.74) gets the call for the Reds while the Giants will send Jonathan Sanchez (4-4, 3.51) to the hill.  MLB odds boards opened with San Francisco as a -116 favorite with the total at 7.5.

Cincinnati (34-32) is in third-place in the National League Central Division, 5.5 games behind the Cardinals. San Francisco (36-29) leads the NL West by one game over Arizona.

Timmy Troubles

The Reds roughed up Giants ace Tim Lincecum (5-5) on Saturday en route to a 10-2 victory (as predicted in Joe C.'s Weekend Free Picks). It matched the worst performance in Lincecum’s career as he allowed seven runs, seven hits and four walks in just four innings of work.  

On the flip side, winning pitcher Mike Leake (6-2) tossed eight scoreless innings and allowed just four hits. The shutout was spoiled in the ninth inning when Pat Burrell hit a two-run homer off reliever Carlos Fisher. Leake is now 3-0 in four starts since being recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

The Giants get ‘bit’ again

The Giants injury list is piling up once again. First it was catcher Buster Posey suffering a season ending broken leg. Then on Friday night, 2B Freddy Sanchez suffered a dislocated shoulder while diving for a ground ball. Posey was hitting .284 with four homers and 21 runs batted in while Sanchez has raised his batting average to .289 and with 24 RBI’s. Brandon Belt, Pablo Sandoval and Mark DeRosa are also on the DL with various hand and wrist injuries leaving the Giants in search of some much needed offense.

Despite the injuries, MLB bettors who have chosen to  take San Francisco on the money line have shown a slight profit (9-8, $+97) and are 25-14-1 to the ‘under’ since the rash of injuries started. The Giants have scored just five runs in their last nine games dropping their per-game scoring average to 3.48 and the team batting average to .240.

A Call to Arms

Buster Poser injury GiantsWith their productive hitters dropping like flies on a seemingly weekly basis, San Francisco’s pitching becomes even more important than ever. Lincecum, Sanchez and Matt Cain are proven winners but it’s the back of the rotation guys who will determine the Giants fate.

Ryan Vogelson has moved to the front of the pack for Comeback Player of the Year consideration going 4-1 with an ERA of 1.81. Madison Bumgarner (2-8, 3.23) is much better than the record would indicate and the bullpen keeps getting the job done led by Brian Wilson who is 5-1 with 17 saves and an ERA of 2.79.

The Reds are raking

Pitching is important for Cincinnati but it’s the offense that pays the bills. The Reds are ranked third in the NL in both hitting (.263) and runs per game (4.95). They’re first in the league in runs scored (327) and third in home runs (67). Cincinnati’s big two on offense are Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Votto is hitting .339 with eight homers and 39 runs batted in while Bruce has 17 round-trippers and 48 RBI’s.

A walk on the wild side

Tonight’s game will feature two pitchers who average better than a strikeout an inning but can be equally wild. Sanchez has 78 strikeouts in 74.1 innings but has walked a team high 45 batters.

Volquez was a 17-game winner for Cincinnati in 2008 but it’s been downhill since. In 2009 he blew out his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery and in April of the following year, he received a 50-game suspension for using a performance enhancing drug.

Volquez, who the Reds thought would be the next great thing has instead bounced back and forth between the Reds and every level of the minors. The issue now for the veteran right-hander is control especially on the road where he’s walked 19 batters in 23.1 innings

The San Francisco weather forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies, light winds of 10-15 MPH and temperatures in the 50’s.