After the San Francisco Giants beat the Cincinnati Reds in Game Two of their National League Division Series, the celebration was quickly subdued by the prospect of a Game Four in which Barry Zito would pitch against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Neither the opposition nor the location tend to favor the Giants, so even after winning a game in which they collected a total of three hits, the task ahead of the team only got marginally easier. They still had to win two straight games in Cincainnati.
Standing in their way was not only be one of the best lineups in the National League, but also Mike Leake, who joined the Cincinnati Reds after the team removed Johnny Cueto from its NLDS roster, following an injury suffered in the first game of the series. Leake is no Cueto. However, as has been established by the last several seasons of baseball, Zito isn’t exactly the most reliable of starting pitchers.
In other words, if you took the over for Wednesday’s game, you were in luck. If you were a San Francisco Giants fan who took the over, you were in even more luck.
The National League Division Series between the Giants and Reds is all tied up at two, after San Francisco beat Cincinnati 8-2 on the backs of an outstanding relief appearance from Tim Lincecum and a 2 for 3 (with two walks) day from center fielder Angel Pagan.
Here’s why the Giants and Reds will be going the distance in their NLDS tomorrow afternoon:
First Inning: San Francisco 1 – Cincinnati 1
Angel Pagan swings and takes Mike Leake deep on the very first pitch of the baseball game. If this is a harbinger of things to come, we might be here for a while, as this ballpark has a way of punishing less than excellent pitching.
Speaking of which, Barry Zito faces seven batters in the bottom half of the inning. He gives up one hit, and walks three of them. That results in a run, but at least it isn’t a home run. You take what you get with Zito.
Second Inning: San Francisco 3 – Cincinnati 1
Gregor Blanco hits a two-run home run, which I’m pretty sure is the first time he’s ever hit a ball out of the infield. Leake, it must be said, in the least surprising fashion possible, looks hittable. This is a nice change of pace from how the San Francisco lineup has been treated by Cincinnati to date.
It’s kind of funny that this playoff matchup represents two teams that play in two of the nicer looking ballparks in the league, and those ballparks couldn’t possibly more different in function if one was used for lawn bowling.
Third Inning: San Francisco 3 – Cincinnati 2
Ryan Ludwick takes Zito deep with a solo shot. Oh man, batting practice has been so much fun. I can’t wait for the game to start. After a two-out walk, Zito is pulled for George Kontos.
And now comes George Kontos, the Greek God of Cleaning Up the Starters’ Shit
— Wendy Thurm (@hangingsliders) October 10, 2012
It’s easy to blame Barry Zito for his lack of command, but he’s getting squeezed by home plate umpire Dan Iassogna, especially against right-handed batters.
Fifth Inning: San Francisco 5 – Cincinnati 2
Pagan collects his second RBI of the game when he knocks in Joaquin Arias with a back-to-back double. Arias came into the game as part of a double switch in the bottom of the fourth that also brought Tim Lincecum to the mound.
Scutaro bunts Pagan to third, and Sandoval delivers a sacrifice fly to make it 5-2.
Sixth Inning: San Francisco 5 – Cincinnati 2
Drew Stubbs led off the inning with a double off Lincecum. Miguel Cairo (!) pinch-hitting (!) moved the runner along to third where a sacrifice fly off the bat of Brandon Phillips brought him home. It’s now a two run game.
Seventh Inning: San Francisco 8 – Cincinnati 2
Marco Scutaro brings home Arias who is having a very good game for the Giants. While it’s nice to see some of the bats come alive, it’d be even nicer to see the bigger bats do something right as well. You know, like Pablo Sandoval, who just hit a two-run home run. It’s getting close to a rout.
Ninth Inning: San Francisco 8 – Cincinnati 2
After eight, Lincecum leaves the game, having pitched four and a third innings in relief. He allowed one run, on two hits while striking out six. It was phenomenal to see Timmy find success even if it wasn’t quite a return to the dominance he’s exhibited in the past. Santiago Casilla finished things out for the Giants, who will go with Matt Cain tomorrow against Mat Latos of the Cincinnati Reds in the deciding game of the National League Division Series.