Even with one huge swing by NL MVP candidate Buster Posey, this winner-take-all game in one of the two National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds was not over until Scott Rolen struck out for the Reds’ final out of the 2012 season.
This series, as I predicted at the start, was the best, and not only because it went the full, five games – all four LDS went to a game five.
In the first game of the series, Cincinnati lost their Cy Young candidate in Johnny Cueto, who only recorded one out before he was pulled due to back spasms and would not return for the rest of the series. But it mattered little as the Reds pitching staff had enough to shutdown the Giants’ offense and take game one on the road.
Less than 24 hours later, Bronson Arroyo threw a gem for the Reds, going seven innings of one-hit ball as the Giants suffered a 9-0 loss and found themselves down 0-2 in the series with the next three games scheduled to take place in Cincinnati.
But there’s a reason why these two teams are in the post-season, and it’s because neither one is ever out of a game despite what the odds may say.
A pitchers duel was in store for a win-or-go-home game three for the Giants. After nine-innings, this game would require extras as it sat mired in a 1-1 tie with each team having less than five hits.
Reds closer Jonathan Broxton gave up back-to-back singles to Posey and Hunter Pence to open the tenth, but found his command and struck out the next two Giants hitters.
With their season on the line, San Francisco got some help from Broxton, whose passed ball allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Joaquin Arias hit a routine grounder, but Rolen misplayed it, resulting in Posey scoring and giving the Giants some life in this series.
But their season was still on the line and appeared over as starter Barry Zito was yanked after 2 2/3 innings, throwing just 76 pitches while allowing two runs. But the Reds starter Mike Leake was not an improvement, allowing five runs in 4 1/3 innings before his night was over. San Francisco added three more runs in the seventh to force a game five.
Until the fifth, this winner-take-all felt like a repeat of game three’s pitchers duel. But Gregor Blanco’s leadoff single was enough to ignite the Giants’ bats in the inning.
Brandon Crawford tripled to drive in Blanco and break the shutout before another costly Reds’ error allowed Crawford to score. Following a walk and single, the bases were loaded for the NL Batting Champion, Posey, who proved why he’s the champion by sending Latos’ pitch into the bleachers for a grand slam and 6-0 lead.
Cincinnati was able to cut the deficit to three runs heading into the ninth. Ryan Ludwick drove in one run after a Zach Cozart walk and Joey Votto single. With just one out, the Reds had a chance with the next two batters to avoid losing three straight home games with one big swing from either Jay Bruce or Rolen.
Both came up short, as the Giants became the first NL ever team to comeback from down 0-2 in the LDS and win the series on the road. The Reds’ bad luck at home in the post-season continued, as they have not won a home playoff game since the 1995 season.
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