The Cincinnati Reds are going to sweep the San Francisco Giants out of the playoffs Tuesday night behind the strength of their bats.
Just a few short days ago, that would have sounded crazy.
Coming into the National League Division Series, the Giants were expected to have a big hitting edge over the Reds.
After all, Cincinnati entered the playoffs having scored the fewest runs of any of the 10 playoff teams.
Beyond that, the Giants looked noticeably better than Cincinnati in the latter half of the season, scoring 380 runs to the Reds’ 311. And that's despite the fact that the Reds play at Great American Ball Park, a notoriously good park for hitters.
Yet the Reds have thoroughly outhit the Giants in the series, outscoring San Francisco by 12 runs to take a commanding 2-0 lead.
Any Giants fan praying for a drastic turnaround is out of luck—the runs are likely to keep coming for the Reds in Game 3.
Giants’ right-hander Ryan Vogelsong will take on the Reds’ Homer Bailey in the series’ first game at Great American Ball Park. Vogelsong has pitched well this year and sports a 3.37 ERA to go along with his solid 1.22 WHIP.
Vogelsong also ended the regular season on a tear, going 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA in his last three starts. He’s certainly the Giants’ best shot at a win, but it’s hard to imagine that he has what it takes to overcome the Reds’ bats.
He's started two games at Cincinnati, both as a member of the San Francisco Giants. The two games ended in no-decisions, and he racked up a troubling 5.25 ERA.
Bailey also ended the season hot, pitching a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, he has a checkered past against the Giants and has gone 1-0 with a 5.59 ERA in his five career starts against San Francisco.
This one’s not shaping up to be a pitcher’s duel, and that plays right into the Reds’ hands. Because right now, it would be crazy to pick against the Reds’ hitting.
They’re on too much of a roll.
Baseball is the streakiest of all sports. Teams can go hot or cold at the drop of a hat. No one was picking the St. Louis Cardinals to win it all at the start of last year’s playoffs and look what happened. They got hot, gained some momentum and rode that momentum all the way to a World Series victory.
You see the same thing happening for both teams in this series. The Reds are hot, whereas the Giants are slumping.
There’s simply no reason to expect that to change Tuesday night. Just look at the difference in what each team is saying.
After the Reds’ Game 2 victory, pitcher Bronson Arroyo told The Huffington Post’s Janie McCauley:
“We couldn't put ourselves in a better situation.”
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker talked about how hot the Reds’ bats were, saying (per USA Today Sports’ Jorge L. Ortiz):
“…Once everybody starts hitting it feels like everyone is going to hit.”
By comparison, the Giants have been talking about just trying to survive. Second baseman Marco Scutaro told The Huffington Post’s Janie McCauley:
"We need to go to their place and play aggressive and try to change the momentum. Keep fighting, you never know what's going to happen. Their momentum is really good right now."
Admittedly, there’s not much more to say on the San Francisco side—they’ve been thoroughly outplayed to this point. But the Reds clearly have the utmost confidence in their bats right now, and the Giants don’t seem to have an answer.
The Cincinnati offense is streaking, and the San Francisco offense is slumping. It boils down to that.
Backed by some seriously hot hitting, the Cincinnati Reds should have no problem taking Game 3 and sweeping the NLDS over the San Francisco Giants.