Game 1 of the NLDS got off to a worrisome start for the Cincinnati Reds, but they went on to defeat the San Francisco Giants, 5-2.
Reds ace Johnny Cueto faced just one batter before leaving the game with back spasms. The injury was reportedly not serious, and he was relieved by Sam LeCure.
LeCure was able to hold off the Giants for five outs before Mat Latos finished warming up in the bullpen. Latos had been set to start Game 3 of this series, but manager Dusty Baker had to adjust on the fly.
At the plate, the Reds were able to strike first and give the pitchers some run support. In the top of the third inning, Brandon Philips homered off of Matt Cain and scored Drew Stubbs to give the Reds a 2-0 lead.
Jay Bruce took Cain deep again in the next inning and extended the lead. In the sixth inning, Buster Posey continued the trend of scoring via the long ball, and homered off of Latos to pull the Giants back within two at 3-1.
San Francisco threatened again when Posey got on base in the eighth and Reds closer Jonathan Broxton walked Brandon Belt. Gregor Blanco then had full count with a chance to load the bases, but struck out looking.
The next inning, Phillips made a Giants comeback even more improbable with an RBI single to push the score to 4-1.
The top of the ninth ended up being rough on Giants pitcher Santiago Casilla, who threw two wild pitches to bring in another run and make it 5-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Aroldis Chapman came into the close out the victory for the Reds, but San Francisco did not go out quietly. Joaquin Arias and Xavier Nady both got on base to start the inning, and Marco Scutaro was walked to load the bases with just one out.
Chapman then threw a wild pitch to bring in a run and bring San Francisco within three with Buster Posey at the plate. With the drama building, the Reds closer was able to get Posey to strike out, preserving a victory, 5-2, for Cincinnati.
Tweets of the Night
This interplay from Bleacher Report's Aaron Nagler and Dylan MacNamara suggests that forces may have been conspiring against the Giants. This is a possible explanation for the team's poor hitting.
Dark omen. RT @dylanmacnamara: Alex Smith throws ceremonial first pitch in dirt. Seriously. One hopped it.— Aaron Nagler (@Aaron_Nagler) October 7, 2012
Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle noted that Posey's home run allowed the Giants players to finally be more entertaining than the stadium DJ.
MVP Buster Posey just hit a home run and the crowd realized baseball is more important than Gangnam Style. #giants— Ann Killion (@annkillion) October 7, 2012
Major League Baseball's official Twitter account points out that Latos received a significant amount of help from his defense, and felt that Phillips deserved a Twitter shout-out for his fine performance.
MLB (@MLB) October 7, 2012
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy felt Brandon Phillips' ability to avoid a tag from Marco Scutaro in the eighth inning had inspiration from a certain movie character.
Brandon Phillips with a Matrix move— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) October 7, 2012
Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter was not a happy man when Gregor Blanco watched a pitch go by in the eighth inning that could have been his opportunity to turn the game around.
you cannot take that pitch. grrrrrr. #sfgiants— Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter) October 7, 2012
Despite Posey's inability to get a hit in the ninth, Trotter was pleased that he didn't watch his opportunity pass him by. The SI writer also offered a begrudging congratulatory remark to the Reds.
well, at least buster went down swinging. congrats to reds on game 1 win. giants will even the series tomorrow.— Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter) October 7, 2012
Grades for Key Reds Players
Brandon Phillips: A+
Phillips got it done both at the plate and on defense in this game. He was spectacular at second base, and his home run accounted for two of the Reds three runs.
Phillips even flashed some crafty baserunning to get his team out of a double play in the eighth inning, and the three-time Gold Glove winner went 3-for-5 for the game. His excellent all-around performance was a driving force behind Cincinnati's victory.
Mat Latos: A-
Latos was put in an extremely difficult situation. His previous outing was on October 2 and he was not supposed to pitch again until October 9.
He still managed to deliver an excellent performance, giving up four hits and one earned run in four innings. He struck out one batter and walked just one, keeping the Giants batters frustrated throughout his outing.
Joey Votto: B
Votto also contributed defensively from first base, but failed to have his usual impact at the plate. He was walked once and struck out once, ultimately ending the game hitless.
Going forward, the team will need to score more against the Giants, and those runs will have to come from Votto.
Grades for Key Giants Players
Matt Cain: B-
Cain pitched five innings and gave up five hits. He struck out four batters, walked one and had three earned runs against his name. This was by no means a bad performance, but San Francisco needed Cain to be spectacular to kick off the NLDS.
The ace did not deliver and the Giants are now in an early hole.
Buster Posey: B
The San Francisco offense struggled, but Posey did everything he could to jump-start the team's bats with his solo shot in the sixth inning.
This ended up being ineffectual, but Posey went 2-for-5 on the night and had a decent overall outing. But the game came down to him in the bottom of the ninth inning, and he was unable to deliver a clutch hit to start a Giants comeback.
Pablo Sandoval: C
While Posey made an effort to fire up the Giants hitters, no such spark was provided by the Giants' other All-Star bat. Sandoval ended this game 1-for-5.
San Francisco desperately needed more from its offense, and Sandoval is one of the players that needs to come through in low-scoring contests like this one. Going forward, the Giants will hope to get more production out of their third baseman.