For a small portion of today, while not in front of a computer, I walked around the downtown of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, wearing a pumpkin orange San Francisco Giants jersey. Instead of the typical indifference from the masses that inhabit a large metropolitan area, my jersey garnered sympathetic attention. On each street corner I was greeted with something close to condolences from passers by.
I’d like to think that this was the sole result of my outfit for today, but I’m afraid to suggest that it also might have something to do with my defeated countenance. Always the realist, I have my doubts that the 2012 version of the San Francisco Giants will be able to do what no other visiting team has done this year to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park: win three games in a row.
They began this seemingly futile quest on the right foot today by beating the Reds 2-1 in a positively thrilling game, with excellent pitching and the type of tension that creates increased heart rates. Here’s how it all happened:
Pre Game Notes
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) October 9, 2012
Our correspondent in Cincinnati reenacts the moving words from Pence:
Angel Pagan takes a first pitch strike from Homer Bailey, and we are underway in Cincinnati …
First Inning: Cincinnati 1 – San Francisco 0
Unsurprisingly, the Reds strike first when Jay Bruce pulls a pitch through the right side of the infield, and Zack Cozart, who was walked earlier in the inning, comes home to score. The damage could’ve been much worse, as Brandon Phillips who reached with a single to lead things off, was thrown out at third base by Buster Posey when Ryan Vogelsong sent a wild pitch to back stop.
Vogelsong, working backwards, has been without command so far in the first. He looks like the exact opposite of Homer Bailey whose first inning was almost entirely comprised of fastballs in the zone.
Second Inning: Cincinnati 1 – San Francisco 0
Hunter Pence did this:
Third Inning: Cincinnati 1 – San Francisco 1
Gregor Blanco scores on an Angel Pagan sacrifice fly to tie the ball game. Blanco got on base the hard way when the was hit by a fastball from Bailey. Brandon Crawford walked, and then Vogelsong advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt, before Pagan’s sacrifice. Bailey’s control in the first two innings was rather impressive as he seemed to hit Ryan Hanigan’s glove on every single pitch, making his short bout of wildness in the third all the more noticeable.
So it counts as a point when a runner crosses homeplate? If that’s the case, The Giants should do more of that.
— Ryan Oakley (@thegrumpyowl) October 9, 2012
Fifth Inning: Cincinnati 1 – San Francisco 1
This is the Homer Bailey show. The Cincinnati Red starter has struck out the side in the top of the fifth, to make it eight batters it total. He’s throwing nothing but fastballs and sliders to right-handed hitters, while using the same recipe for left-handed batters with the addition of an occasional splitter. Giants hitters look absolutely fooled by the breaking pitches and unable to keep up with hard stuff. He’s hitting all of his locations, putting the ball right in Hanigan’s glove on almost every pitch, mixing levels and pitch type incredibly effectively. Oh yeah, and San Francisco hasn’t gotten a hit yet, either.
All of this, and he’s only thrown 65 pitches.
Homer (and Hanigan) playing with hitter expectations by climbing the ladder, then dropping thebreaking ball. #Reds
— Red Reporter (@redreporter) October 9, 2012
Meanwhile, Vogelsong is keeping up without looking as dominant. He hasn’t allowed a hit since the first inning.
Sixth Inning: Cincinnati 1 – San Francisco 1
And Bailey’s no-hit bid is over. With two outs in the sixth inning, Scutaro knocked a single down the right field line for the first hit of the game from the Giants. Bailey opened the inning by striking out Aubrey Huff (pinch hitting for Vogelsong). He then induced a ground out from Pagan, before getting two strikes on Scuatro, when the the San Francisco second baseman hit one between Votto and first base.
First hit for Marco Scutaro in the series. First hit for the Giants tonight.
— Andrew Baggarly (@CSNBaggs) October 9, 2012
There have been a lot of complaints about the strike zone, and about the only thing consistent about it is that both teams seem to be getting as good as they’re giving.
Seventh Inning: Cincinnati 1 – San Francisco 1
Homer Bailey struck out his tenth batter of the night to end the top of the seventh. He caught Giants first baseman Brandon Belt looking for the second time tonight. Belt was less than impressed, but the called third strike was in the strike zone that umpires typically call.
Bailey is pinch-hit for in the bottom half of the inning. He leaves the game having thrown only 88 pitches. It was a remarkable first playoff appearance for the 26-year-old.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Affeldt pitched two innings of effective relief for the Giants, collecting six outs from eight batters, to keep things tied at one.
Ninth Inning: Cincinnati 1 – San Francisco 1
We go to the ninth with the score still tied. Aroldis Chapman comes into the game for the Reds.
Chapman in because Baker thinks the Giants haven’t struck out enough today.
— Stuart Jones (@HeHitsItDeeeeep) October 10, 2012
Three up and three down on both sides of the inning. Free baseball for all.
Tenth Inning: Cincinnati 1 – San Francisco 2
With Jonathan Broxton in to pitch, Posey leads off with a single through the right side. Pence comes up next and delivers a single through the left side to put two men on and none out for Brandon Belt, who strikes out for the third time tonight. Xavier Nady is up next, and he follows Belt’s lead by striking out as well, the fifteenth and sixteenth strike outs of the night for the Giants. The first pitch to Joaquin Arias is mishandled by Hanigan, and the runners advance. Arias hits a grounder right at Rolen, who bobbles the ball, allowing Arias to reach safely and a run to score. Romo, who will pitch the bottom of the inning, comes up to bat and records the Giants’ seventeenth strike out of the game.
Romo gets a ground out from Xavier Paul, induces a pop up from Brandon Phillips, and then Cozart grounds out to the pitcher. The Giants win. The Giants win. The Giants win. The improbable comeback just got a little bit more probable.