David Zalubowski / AP

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner works against the Colorado Rockies in the fourth inning of a baseball game in Denver on Tuesday, May 20, 2014.

Pagan rests as Giants go for sweep of Twins

Published: Sunday, May. 25, 2014 - 12:11 pm

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants woke up today, on a sun-drenched morning by McCovey Cove, owners of the best record in Major League Baseball at 31-18 (a .633 winning percentage). According to the Giants’ pre-game notes, it’s the first time since 1973 the Giants have had the majors’ best winning percentage through their first 49 games.

Included in that is a 5-0 record in interleague play, which the Giants will try to improve on today with a chance to sweep the Minnesota Twnis behind Madison Bumgarner. The left-hander had a no-decision in his last start in Colorado but is 3-0 in his last four starts with a 2.88 ERA and 28 strikeouts to just four walks in those outings.

Oddly enough, Bumgarner has struggled some at home this year, posting a 6.20 ERA in his four starts at AT&T Park. Bumgarner has a career 3.07 ERA at home, so you have to assume that’ll come down as the season goes on.

Bumgarner has faced the Twins only once in his career, back on June 21, 2011, and it’s a start he probably doesn’t care to remember. He faced 10 batters, got one out by retiring opposing pitcher Carl Pavano and allowed eight runs, becoming the first pitcher in the modern era to allow nine hits in an outing while getting fewer than two outs.

He’ll face Minnesota again today with Gregor Blanco in center field instead of Angel Pagan. Manager Bruce Bochy said it’s a normal day off for Pagan, and that Pagan may get more regular days like this to rest his knee and keep him fresh. The Giants’ lineup looks like this:

CF Blanco

RF Pence

C Posey

3B Sandoval

1B Morse

LF Colvin

SS Crawford

2B Hicks

P Bumgarner

And the Twins’ lineup:

2B Dozier

1B Mauer

3B Plouffe

C Suzuki

LF Nunez

RF Parmelee

SS Escobar

CF Santana

P Nolasco

* Bochy said right-hander Matt Cain (strained right hamstring) is continuing to improve, and there’s still a chance the Giants could slot Cain -- who will be skipped Monday with Yusmeiro Petit starting instead against the Cubs -- back into the rotation before his turn comes up again, depending on how Cain feels.

Still, Bochy said the Giants will exercise caution with Cain and that, "We have to do the right thing" to ensure Cain doesn’t have to go on the disabled list. Right now, the Giants are holding off from the DL in hopes Cain will miss just one start. "He’s made a lot of progress," Bochy said. "He’s just not quite there."

* Pablo Sandoval has homered in four of his last six games and may be facing the right pitcher today to stay hot. Sandoval’s career line against Ricky Nolasco is 9-for-18 with two homers and two doubles in his last 10 at-bats.

* With a win today, the Giants would equal their win total in interleague play (six) from all of last season. They had a combined 4.81 ERA against A.L. teams in 2013. This year, through five games, it’s at 1.40, the third-lowest in the majors behind Miami and the A’s.

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara

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