Familiar faces square off as Giants host Reds

MLB

Two teams off to strong starts will put their winning ways on display Monday night when the Cincinnati Reds visit the San Francisco Giants to begin a three-game series.

Former teammates on the Houston Astros’ World Series squad of 2019, Cincinnati left-hander Wade Miley (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and San Francisco righty Aaron Sanchez (0-0, 1.80) will go head-to-head as each team attempts to ride the momentum of an impressive season debut.

In a battle of teams that have opened 6-3, the Giants enter the series as the hotter of the two. They’ve ridden lights-out pitching to four straight wins, having allowed just six runs in those games.

The last time the Giants lost, it came during a game Sanchez started in San Diego. He left a 1-1 game after five innings last Tuesday, only to see the Padres pull out a 3-1 win.

In his Giants debut, Sanchez didn’t walk a batter and gave up just six hits.

A career American Leaguer until signing with the Giants in February, the 28-year-old never has faced the Reds. But he has dueled Miley twice — in a 7-0 Toronto win over Boston in May 2015 and in a 6-4 Toronto loss to Baltimore in April 2017.

The two became teammates when Sanchez was traded from the Blue Jays to Houston at the deadline in July 2019.

Sanchez made four starts for the Astros that season, going 2-0 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury that also shelved him for the entire 2020 season.

For Sanchez, the simple walk to the Petco Park mound for the bottom of the first inning in his season opener was special last week.

“You just definitely don’t know after an injury like that what the outcome holds,” he said. “You work tirelessly for a goal, and you don’t really know what the outcome is going to be. To be able to walk between those lines before inning No. 1 was super-special. I felt like I was back in my element.”

Miley, meanwhile, was 14-6 for the Astros in 2019, helping Houston win the American League West before advancing through Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees in the AL playoffs and into the World Series, where the AL champs fell in seven games to Washington.

Neither was around for the Astros’ 2020 season, which followed the offseason suspensions of manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow in a sign-stealing scandal.

Miley has faced the Giants 12 times in his career, 11 times as a starter. He has a 4-4 record and 3.88 ERA in those games.

The 34-year-old, who went 0-3 for Cincinnati last season, earned his first Reds’ win in a 14-1 romp over Pittsburgh last Tuesday. He worked the first six innings of that game, shutting out the Pirates on two hits and one walk.

Miley noted afterward he might have picked up a new trick in the outing.

“I just tried to work fast,” he said. “The way we’re swinging the bats, I wanted to get them off the field as quick as possible.”

Miley has struggled in his career against key Giants — Brandon Belt and Buster Posey. Belt has gone 5-for-10 against him with a triple, a home run and four RBIs in a lefty-on-lefty matchup, while Posey has 10 hits, including three doubles and a homer, in 26 at-bats (.385 average).

–Field Level Media

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