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Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants: Team Grades from NLDS Game 2

Kyle NewportFeatured ColumnistOctober 8, 2012

Cincinnati Reds vs. San Francisco Giants: Team Grades from NLDS Game 2

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    The Cincinnati Reds are heading home with a 2-0 lead over the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 National League Division Series, and Game 2 turned out to be a crucial game for both teams.

    With a 9-0 victory, the Reds took control of this series. It was a team effort on Sunday night, and it was the best all-around performance by the team in a long time.

    San Francisco now faces the challenge of having to win three straight games at Great American Ball Park. On the other hand, Cincinnati just needs to win one game and could possibly have its top two pitchers to close out the series if necessary.

    The Reds set the tone early in Game 2, and the Giants never appeared to have a chance after the second inning. A dominant pitching performance by Bronson Arroyo kept the Giants off the bases all night.

    Although the series is not over, the Giants need to regroup if they hope to avoid a sweep. The pitching has been decent through the first two games, but the offense is struggling to get going.

    So how exactly did Game 2 unfold? 

     

    *Stats from ESPN.com

Pitching

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    Starting Pitchers:

    Cincinnati: Bronson Arroyo (RHP)

    Stats: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K

    Grade: A+

    Arroyo was phenomenal. He did not allow a baserunner until there were two outs in the fifth inning, and he retired 21 of the 23 batters he faced. His off-speed pitches kept hitters guessing throughout the game, and he did not have a runner get past first base in seven innings. As a fly ball pitcher, Arroyo took advantage of the big ballpark. He pitched to contact and kept his pitch count down.Overall, it was his best start of the season and could not have come at a better time. He showed why manager Dusty Baker gave him the ball in Game 2. 

     

    San Francisco: Madison Bumgarner (LHP) 

    Stats: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

    Grade: C-

    On a normal night, Bumgarner's outing probably gives his team a chance to win. However, he had to go head-to-head with a pitcher who was on his game. Bumgarner continued his streak of shaky outings, but he was not as bad as his line looks. The left-hander allowed three runs on four hits in the fourth inning, which put the game out of reach. The Reds did damage against him early in the count as all three run-scoring hits came on the first pitch of the at-bat. 

Offense

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    Cincinnati lineup:

    2B Brandon Phillips (2-5, RBI)

    SS Zack Cozart (1-4)

    1B Joey Votto (3-4)

    LF Ryan Ludwick (2-3, HR, BB)

    RF Jay Bruce (1-5, 2 RBI)

    3B Scott Rolen (1-3, BB, RBI)

    C Ryan Hanigan (2-4, 3 RBI)

    CF Drew Stubbs (1-4, RBI)

    P Bronson Arroyo (0-4)

     

    Grade: A

    This lineup has gotten out to early leads in the first two games thanks to a couple of long balls, and then it tacked on runs later in the game. In Game 2, Ryan Ludwick gave the Reds a 1-0 lead in the second inning by launching the first pitch into the stands in center field.

    It was a balanced attack as every starter (not counting Arroyo) recorded a base hit. Cincinnati had a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning and played small ball late in the game. The offense finally put the game away with five runs in the eighth inning to make it 9-0. The Reds had not scored nine runs since the final game of August.

    Here's a fun stat:

    2010 NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies (3 games): 4 runs on 9 hits

    2012 NLDS against San Francisco (2 games): 14 runs on 22 hits

     

    San Francisco lineup: 

    CF Angel Pagan (0-4)

    2B Marco Scutaro (0-4)

    3B Pablo Sandoval (1-4)

    C Buster Posey (0-2, 2 BB)

    RF Hunter Pence (0-4)

    1B Brandon Belt (1-3)

    LF Gregor Blanco (0-2)

    SS Brandon Crawford (0-2, BB)

    P Madison Bumgarner (0-1)

     

    Grade: F

    The Giants came into the postseason on an offensive tear, but the Reds have managed to shut down this lineup. Game 2 was a tough one to watch for Giants fans. San Francisco failed to get more than one runner on base in an inning all game.

    There were too many easy ground balls and lazy fly balls against Arroyo, which made it tough to put together a rally.The Giants finally got a runner to second base in the eighth inning against rookie J.J. Hoover on a defensive indifference, but stranded him. There's not much to say about the lineup on this kind of a night.

     

    Lineup stats:

    Against Bronson Arroyo: 7 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R (no runner reached second)

    Against J.J. Hoover: 1 IP, 0 H, 1 BB, 0 R (runner reached second on defensive indifference)

    Against Jose Arredondo: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 R (runners reached second and third)

     

    The Giants were outhit 13-2 in Game 2.

Reds' Determining Factor

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    Bronson Arroyo.

    He's already been mentioned, but a gem like this deserves extra recognition. Whether or not his postseason experience helped him, he was absolutely sensational. 

    The right-hander did not throw more than 16 pitches in an inning all night. Arroyo and catcher Ryan Hanigan were on the same page all night, and the 35-year-old never allowed the Giants to get back in the game.

    After the offense gave him a lead, Arroyo cruised through the rest of the game. He struck out four consecutive batters starting with two outs in the third inning—which turned out to be the only strikeouts he recorded all evening.

    Arroyo allowed only two baserunners in seven innings, and he only threw 91 pitches. If the Reds had not exploded in the eighth inning for five runs, he probably would have gone back out to finish his gem. 

    No player reached second base against Arroyo, and nobody reached base with less than two outs against the veteran.

    If Arroyo pitches like he did on Sunday night all postseason, the Reds will be a tough team to beat.

Giants' Determining Factor

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    This is a stretch, but the Giants seemed to get some momentum when Tim Lincecum came into the game in the sixth inning.

    The former Cy Young winner was sharp in his two innings of relief, and the fans seemed to feed off of his energy. San Francisco's bullpen was good up until the seventh inning, and Lincecum was a big part of it.

    With two strikeouts, he overpowered Cincinnati hitters. It looked like the Giants might be able to get back in the game, but the offense could not get anything going.

    After struggling during the regular season, Lincecum was locked in on Sunday night. After striking out Ryan Hanigan to end the sixth inning, the right-hander gave a fist pump. The sell-out crowd was fired up from the moment Lincecum took the mound.

    If nothing else, it was a confidence booster for Lincecum. He allowed only one baserunner in two innings—a positive sign.  

Final Team Grades

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    Cincinnati Reds: A+

    Bronson Arroyo's outing was good enough to give the Reds a high grade, but the offense was equally as good. There's not much to complain about for Reds fans, and it looks like the team is starting to get hot at the right time.

    The blowout allowed Cincinnati to get some bench players late in the game, which is important. Great overall performance by Dusty Baker's team, and they will head to Cincinnati needing only one victory to advance to the NLCS. 

    San Francisco Giants: D

    Just an ugly offensive performance. Two hits and two walks in nine innings is not good enough in the postseason. The pitching kept the team close for seven innings, but the bullpen fell apart in the eighth inning. The Giants had to use three pitchers in the inning, but the game was over by the time they recorded the final out of the eighth.

    Madison Bumgarner was not as sharp as he needed to be, but he gave his team a chance to compete. George Kontos and Tim Lincecum both pitched effectively out of the bullpen. Those three pitchers are the reason the team got that high of a grade.

    San Francisco needs to regroup on Monday and prepare for Game 3 on Tuesday. The Giants have a team capable of winning three straight, but one run in two games is not good enough in the playoffs. 

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