Madison Bumgarner will take the mound for the Giants as baseball's hottest team opens a four-game series at PNC Park against the Pirates on Monday night.
The Pirates are heading the other direction, as they have lost five in a row, 10 of 11 and 17 of their last 22 games. Their brutal schedule won't get any easier, as they flew home after a Sunday night game in Chicago to see the Giants' three top arms lined up: Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.
Bumgarner has been a consistent force during San Francisco's winning streak. He's gone 7-0 with a 1.27 ERA over 10 starts dating back to April 25. On the other hand, left-hander Jeff Locke, Pittsburgh's starter on Monday, has allowed 18 earned runs over his last two starts and failed to complete five innings in either start.
"You have to look at all facets of the game when you get on a run like this," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of his team's play. "Usually the pitching is keeping you in the games, and those guys are pitching so much better now than they were at the beginning of the season."
Bumgarner is 2-3 with a 3.45 ERA in five career starts against the Pirates -- and Pittsburgh remembers his 2014 Wild Card Game shutout at PNC Park. Locke is 0-1 with a 9.42 ERA in three starts against the Giants.
Three things to know about this game
• Giants' third baseman Matt Duffy has played in 188 consecutive games. That is the most in the Major Leagues after Manny Machado began serving a four-game suspension on Sunday.
• Bumgarner has impeccable control, except in the first inning this season. In 14 first innings, he's allowed nine walks. He's allowed 17 total walks in all other innings this season.
• The Pirates will likely try to run, as their 50 steals rank second in the National League.