CINCINNATI — Instead of going up against ace in Game 4, the Giants will face the only Cincinnati Reds starter with a losing record.
Mike Leake (8-9) got the call for Wednesday's game at Great American Ball Park, officially replacing Johnny Cueto, whose injury is now being described as a strained right oblique.
The switch prompted some changes in the Giants lineup: Buster Posey, who was penciled in to catch, will instead play first base.
That allows left-hander Barry Zito to get Hector Sanchez, his personal catcher during the regular season. Brandon Belt, who is just 1 for 7 in his career against Leake, will open the game on the bench.
The Giants lineup for Game looks like this:
CF Angel Pagan
2B Marco Scutaro
3B Pablo Sandoval
1B Buster Posey
RF Hunter Pence
C Hector Sanchez
LF Gregor Blanco
SS Brandon Crawford
P Barry Zito
In the wake of the Cueto news, the Reds, who pride themselves on their resilience, pointed to how they handled the loss of Joey Votto during the regular season. Cincinnati went a major-league best 32-16 from July 16 to Sept 3 while their All-Star first baseman recovered from a knee injury.
"You can't sit there and cry over what could have happened,'' Reds manager Dusty Baker said Wednesday. "This is just something else we need to overcome."
Cueto's Game 1 injury was originally labeled as back spasms. The Reds reclassified it Wednesday as an oblique strain and removed the pitcher from their postseason roster. Cueto would not be eligible to return until Cincinnati advanced to the World Series.
"An oblique strain is a quandary,'' pitching coach Bryan Price said. "So as for a certainty on when he's going to be ready to go, we can't put a finger on that."
Leake has a history of success against the Giants. In three starts against them over the past two seasons, he is 3-0 with an 0.77 ERA. His biggest challenge is Sandoval, who is 7 for 10 against him with two home runs.
Leake did not pitch well at home this season. He was 4-5 with a 5.54 ERA at Great American Ballpark and surrendered more home runs (17) than walks (15).