The last time the Reds and Giants met, San Francisco ended Cincinnati's season in last year's National League Division Series. Although the stakes won't be nearly as high when the two teams open a four-game series at Great American Ball Park on Monday, the Reds likely will be seeking some revenge, especially considering the way they let a golden opportunity slip away.
Cincinnati won the first two games of that series in San Francisco before dropping three straight at home to bow out.
Bronson Arroyo earned the win in Game 2 of that series, tossing seven scoreless innings and giving up just one hit and a walk along the way. His most recent outing this season was quite the opposite, as he gave up a season-high seven runs in a season-low four innings against the A's on Tuesday.
Arroyo had been pitching well, owning a 1.57 ERA in his previous four starts. However, the A's threw seven lefty or switch-hitters at the 36-year-old right-hander. Entering Monday, righties were batting .222 with five homers against Arroyo, while lefties have built a .303 average with eight long balls.
"They just had a great approach against me, to be honest with you," Arroyo said of the A's attack. "I predicate my game on being able to play a mental chess match with guys and beating them to the move first. They just beat me to the punch."
Mike Kickham, who will take the mound for the Giants on Monday, wasn't a part of the club's playoff run last season. In fact, he didn't make his Major League debut until May 28 this year. In two starts, he is 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA, most recently giving up six runs (five earned) on eight hits against the Dodgers on Tuesday.
Kickham is in the rotation because of an injury to Chad Gaudin, who is expected to be activated on Saturday. If Kickham is able to impress against the Reds, he might have a chance to remain a starter, rather than making a move to the bullpen as a long reliever.
"With [Kickham], we're just going to go one start at a time, see how he handles it," manager Bruce Bochy said. "If we have to make adjustments, we will."
Reds: Hanigan could return against Giants
Bothered by a sore left ankle, catcher Ryan Hanigan hasn't played since last Tuesday's loss to the A's, but manager Dusty Baker said he might be back for Monday's series opener against the Giants.
"He had a little hop in his step yesterday," Baker said. "Before, he had a little hitch in his step. It looks like he is walking normal. It doesn't mean he's 100 percent. We've just got to make it through the break. I've just got to watch him. There's a difference between being hurt and being injured."
Devin Mesoraco, who is battling a sore knee, has been behind the plate for all four games in Hanigan's absence.
Giants: Posey expected back behind the plate Monday
Although some general leg tightness hasn't kept Buster Posey out of action, it has kept him from playing behind the plate. For the second straight game, Posey started at first base on Sunday to give his legs a break.
Bochy said that he could tell Posey needed some time off from behind the plate, which is nothing unusual for a full-time catcher. When San Francisco takes on Cincinnati on Monday, Posey should be back to his normal position, allowing first baseman Brandon Belt to move back into the lineup after being squeezed out on Sunday.
• In their last 10 games, the Reds are 3-7 while the Giants come in at just 2-8.
• The Reds are 26-14 at Great American Ball Park this season, marking the club's best record after the first 40 home games since the 1994 team started the year 29-11 at Riverfront Stadium.
• San Francisco is 15-27 away from home this season, including a 1-5 mark six games into its current 10-game road trip.
• The Giants scored more runs on Sunday (five) than they had in their previous three games combined (four).
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.