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FRANCISCO -- In the seven days that have passed since Madison Bumgarner struggled mightily in his last start, when he needed 76 pitches to cover four innings in a loss to the Padres, he's worked diligently to get his mechanics in order for the postseason.
On Sunday, when Bumgarner gets the start in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Reds at 9:30 p.m. ET on TBS, the Giants will find out if a week of side work and mechanical fixes have alleviated a rough, seven-game stretch Bumgarner endured to end the regular season.
"Obviously you're going to have ups and downs throughout the year," Bumgarner said on Saturday. "It's just about how you can compete and minimize damage when you are going through a tough stretch."
Key stat: Has no record in 11 playoff appearances, including three starts, with a 6.04 ERA
Key stat: Went 2-0 in four games (three starts) in 2010, with a 2.18 ERA in 20 2/3 innings
At AT&T Park
2012: 1 GS, 0-0, 3.00 ERA
Career: 6 GS, 0-4, 4.11 ERA
2012: 15 GS, 10-3, 2.38 ERA
Career: 41 GS, 19-12, 3.08 ERA
Against this opponent
2012: 2 GS, 0-0, 2.45 ERA
Career: 11 GS, 3-5, 3.13 ERA
2012: 1 GS, 1-0, 0.00 ERA Career: 4 GS, 1-2, 5.16 ERA
Loves to face: Angel Pagan, 5-for-23 Hates to face: Hunter Pence, 12-for-35, 2 HR
Loves to face: Ryan Ludwick, 1-for-16 Hates to face: Brandon Phillips, 3-for-7, 1 RBI
Why he'll win: Was solid in both outings vs. Giants this season despite receiving no-decisions
Why he'll win: Dominated the Reds in a one-hitter earlier this season at AT&T Park
Pitcher beware: Has struggled at AT&T Park, being winless in six career starts
Pitcher beware: Allowed four or more runs in five of his last seven starts
Bottom line: Pick up first win in postseason and at AT&T Park
Bottom line: Pitch like he did as a rookie in the 2010 postseason
The Giants are counting on Bumgarner to be effective, especially after Game 1 starter Matt Cain allowed two home runs and was gone after five innings in Saturday's 5-2 loss to the Reds in the best-of-five series.
"We've got to put this one past us," Cain said afterward.
In Bumgarner, the Giants feel like they have the right guy to even the series.
Bumgarner, who won 16 games, might have made a legitimate push for 20 wins this season had he not stumbled badly late when he went 2-4 with a 5.89 ERA in seven starts, allowing 45 hits in 36 2/3 innings.
"I got out of my mechanics a little bit and that was pretty much it," Bumgarner said. "Once you get in the postseason you can't think about mechanics, can't think about any of that. You just got to go out there and compete with whatever you got, and try and keep us in the game, and give us a chance."
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy, asked what went wrong with Bumgarner during that stretch, said much of the problem had to do with his delivery and stride.
"He got out of sync with his delivery and he did work on his mechanics," Bochy said. "It [his stride] got a little long there and was getting on the side of the ball, so that's what he's worked on."
Since his last start against the Padres, Bumgarner has worked closely with pitching coach Dave Righetti on the side and during a handful of bullpen sessions leading up to Sunday's start.
"He's had a couple of bullpens to work on that and really try to shorten it up a little bit with his delivery and not make such a big turn [in his delivery]," Bochy said. "And I think the rest probably helped him a little bit, too."
While Bumgarner insisted he "feels good," a question was raised about his workload in his first two full seasons in the Major Leagues -- over the course of which he logged 204 2/3 innings (in 2011) and 208 1/3 innings (this past season).
"Physically I feel as good as I have all year," he said, dismissing any notion that his late struggles were the result of fatigue.
He certainly looked awfully good the last time he faced the Reds, a June 28 start at AT&T Park where he tossed a one-hit shutout, allowing his only hit in the sixth inning to Ryan Hanigan and two walks in what was a dominant effort that included eight strikeouts.
"He was on," said Reds manager Dusty Baker.
Not only did Bumgarner neutralize the Reds left-handed thumpers, Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, but he had success against the righties in the lineup. That could prove problematic for the Reds on Sunday if he has indeed corrected what has troubled him mechanically.
Bruce is 1-for-9 in his career with three strikeouts against Bumgarner. Votto has fared somewhat better, getting three hits in 11 at-bats, but has four strikeouts. Right-handed-hitting Ryan Ludwick, who had 26 home runs this season, has one hit in 16 career at-bats against Bumgarner.
Votto and Ludwick didn't do much in Game 1, though Bruce had a double and home run in the Reds' victory. Brandon Phillips added a two-run home run to give the Reds momentum one game into the series.
Now it's up to Bumgarner to get the Giants back in the series, though only if his mechanics allow for it.
"It's just little things," Bumgarner said. "Fine details you couldn't notice unless you're studying for it, but it makes a big difference when you got to be at the tiptop of your game facing teams like we're facing."