After two dominating performances over the weekend, the Cincinnati Reds have pushed the San Francisco Giants to the brink of elimination, with today's Game 3 potentially sending Bruce Bochy and Co. to an early winter break.
Outstanding pitching has been the name of the game for the Reds, as Bronson Arroyo allowed only one hit in Game 2, setting the tone for Homer Bailey to shut the door in Game 3.
The owner of the game's most recent no-hitter won't be the only focal point today, however, as there will be a number of matchups that can tilt the balance of today's game in either direction.
Arguably the hottest Reds hitter in the first two games, Brandon Phillips is 5-for-10 in the first two games of the NLDS and has driven in four runs in leading the Reds offense to their first two victories.
Ryan Vogelsong will have plenty of pressure on his shoulders as he looks to pull the Giants from the brink of elimination, and pitching well to Phillips will no doubt help.
In 16 plate appearances against Vogelsong, Phillips has notched seven hits and drawn two walks, numbers that bode well for his continued success in this series.
Any hopes the San Francisco Giants have for advancing past today's Game 3 will hinge on the team's ability to liven up the bats that have been absent for the first two games.
Things won't get any easier for the Giants with Homer Bailey taking the mound, as the Reds starter has given up only five hits to Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval during his career.
Take into account that Bailey's last full outing saw him no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates (September 28) and the odds don't get any better for the Giants.
It's sometimes overlooked in postseason baseball, but the role of managers in playoff games plays a bigger part than most people think.
The pressure will no doubt be high for Bruce Bochy, as the manager of the 2010 World Series champs finds himself just nine innings away from elimination.
That doesn't mean Dusty Baker won't feel pressure either, though, as he's back in front of his home crowd, a place where the Reds haven't seen much success in the postseason.
The difference between a win and a loss can hinge on something as minuscule as leaving a pitcher in for one too many, or one too few, pitches, so you better believe both managers will be analyzing every move they make.
As mentioned, Ryan Vogelsong will definitely have his hands full today in Game 3, and with no room for error in the Giants dugout, he'll likely have a very short leash as the team can't afford to find themselves in a deep hole.
The Giants bullpen has been less than stellar in the first two games of the series, allowing seven runs in eight innings of duty.
Currently up 2-0 against the San Francisco Giants, the Cincinnati Reds have what could be viewed as somewhat of a "can't miss" situation on their hands, with three chances at closing out the division series in the home-field confines of the Great American Ballpark.
Unfortunately for the Reds, home field hasn't translated into success as of late, as they haven't won a home playoff game in nearly two decades.
I personally believe they'll seal the deal in Game 3, something that they certainly hope to do as they look to buck the trend of losing October games at home.