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San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds: Team Grades from NLDS Game 4

Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IIOctober 11, 2012

San Francisco Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds: Team Grades from NLDS Game 4

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    Headed into Game 4 action between the NL West champion San Francisco Giants and NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds, the Reds made the decision to take Johnny Cueto off the roster.

    For the Reds, this means the team must go without their ace until the World Series, should they make it that far.

    In turn, that means Mike Leake was turned to for the start of Game 4.

    Barry Zito toed the rubber for the Giants in a chance for redemption. After an impressive 15-win season and being left off of the 2010 playoff roster, Zito needed to come out strong.

    Both pitchers took the mound with roughly 10 days rest.

    Each roster saw new catchers: Dioner Navarro stepped in for the Reds, while the Giants had Hector Sanchez, who has essentially been Zito's personal catcher.

    Furthermore, Rookie of the Year candidate Todd Frazier took over at third base for the Reds in this game. Reds manager Dusty Baker assured fans that this was not because of Scott Rolen's error the night before, but rather to give Rolen a rest, considering it is a day game following a night game.

    With those changes in place and a whole lot on the line, here is how each team graded out in Game 4.

Giants Starting Pitcher Barry Zito: C

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    In his previous 10 starts, Zito owned a 6-0 record despite having a 4.07 ERA and a 1.452 WHIP.

    As a team, the Giants owned the seventh-ranked (of eight) team ERA in the playoffs with a 4.50 heading into Game 4.

    With that in mind, Zito came in and looked stale right out of the gate. He lasted just 2.2 innings, throwing 76 pitches.

    He did manage four strikeouts, but he allowed four walks and two runs off of four hits.

    Zito could have possibly come out for another inning, but it was wise to pull him. In a game that could have easily gotten out of control early (Zito walked three batters consecutively in the first inning), he emerged relatively unscathed.

Reds Starting Pitcher Mike Leake: D

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    After watching an explosive outing by Homer Bailey go to waste, the Cincinnati Reds turned to Mike Leake to put away the Giants and move on to the NLCS.

    Prior to this afternoon's start, Leake had gone 4-2 in his previous 10 starts with a slightly scary 1.404 WHIP. To his credit, the 24-year-old did have 37 strikeouts in that same time.

    As a team, the Reds owned the best team ERA, with a 0.96 headed into this afternoon's action.

    Leake lasted 4.1 innings and took the loss. He allowed six hits and five runs and walked two batters while only striking out one.

    In the first inning, he gave up a home run to Angel Pagan before most people were even in their seats.

    Leake would allow one more home run, this to Gregor Blanco in the second inning.

Giants Bullpen: A

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    Did anybody else in the Giants bullpen even matter today?

    Tim Lincecum was a beast, plainly stated. He was named Player of the Game, and for good reason. Lincecum went 4.1 innings and racked up six strikeouts while giving up just two hits.

    The one run he allowed was off of a sacrifice fly from Brandon Phillips.

    He had a curveball working for him that Giants fans haven't seen in a long time, reminding the world that regardless of his 15 losses this season, Lincecum is still "The Freak," the man that can shut any team down at any time.

Reds Bullpen: D

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    Not much good can be said about the Reds pitching in general on this game, let alone the bullpen.

    In 4.2 innings of work, Sam LeCure (1.2), Jose Arredondo (0.1), J.J. Hoover (1.2) and Alfredo Simon (1.0) allowed five hits and three runs (all earned) while walking three batters.

    The highlight has to be Arredondo's 20.25 ERA on the night after he allowed three runs and three hits, walked a batter and gave up a home run.

Giants Offense: A

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    Before the first pitch was even thrown, the Giants were forced to deal with the pressure of their offense being nonexistent. 

    That all changed as soon as the game started, with Angel Pagan going yard in the first inning. Pagan would add another RBI later in the game, finishing with two hits, two walks, a home run and two RBI.

    Pablo Sandoval provided almost all the offense the Giants needed by his lonesome, driving in three RBI aided by a monstrous 400-plus-foot home run in the sixth inning off of Arredondo.

    I'm not even sure that shot has landed yet.

    For a team that has been lacking in run production this series, it certainly made up for it tonight.

Reds Offense: C

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    The Reds offense has been explosive this postseason. As a team headed into today's action, they had driven in 14 runs, the most of any team in the playoffs.

    Led by Brandon Phillips with his 1.133 OPS, four RBI and six hits and aided by Jay Bruce with his four RBI, the Reds certainly had the offensive upper hand.

    Outside of Ryan Ludwick, the offense was fairly average in Game 4. While Cozart and Votto had two hits apiece, Ludwick not only homered (a solo shot in the third inning off of Barry Zito), but he battled with every at-bat.

    That includes the game-ending pop-out after he saw 10 pitches from Santiago Casilla.

    For a team that typically generates 4.13 runs per game, it did fall short of its season average. However, with the pitching allowing eight runs, it isn't likely that statistic would have mattered much.

Giants Defense: D

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    Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro misplayed three ground balls early in the game and somehow was not been credited with an error on any of them.

    In the second, Brandon Phillips hit a ball up to second that Scutaro should have had. Despite a great effort, it was fumbled and ruled a hit.

    Immediately following that, Zack Cozart hit a ball up the middle that Scutaro seemed to be fielding with just his thumbs.

    In the fourth inning, Mike Leake hit a ball to Scutaro that took a big bounce and resulted in a disputable error, but Leake reached first in what was deemed an infield hit.

    Lastly, in the only actual error assigned to the Giants, Tim Lincecum made an errant throw to first base in the eighth inning after seeing what he thought was a runner leaving first, when it was really Buster Posey getting into position.

    A sly smirk came across The Freak's face after he realized what he had done.

Reds Defense: C

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    It is hard to rate the team any higher than a "C" grade when to allowed the Giants to put eight runs on the board.

    However, other than what appeared to be a misplayed blooper to Joey Votto early in the second inning and a wild pitch here and there (none making it to the backstop), there were really no actual fielding issues this game.

    The true issue was obviously the pitching. Allowing three home runs doesn't exactly help the cause.

Final Grades

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    San Francisco Giants: B

    The Giants came out with their backs against the wall for the second straight game and answered the call. Their starting pitching was just OK, but with Tim Lincecum proving that he's still, well, really damn good, they persevered.

    The defense was sloppy, specifically Marco Scutaro, although Timmy was hit with the lone error.

    The offense finally woke up, and just in time. With Matt Cain taking the mound tomorrow, the rest of the team coming alive is just what the Giants needed.

     

    Cincinnati Reds: D

    The starting pitching was bad despite having a couple instances that appeared Mike Leake was settling in.

    The bullpen was just as bad. Dusty Baker may have wanted to start Mat Latos in place of Leake today and have had the upper hand, but hindsight is always 20/20.

    The offense was just OK. Sure, they put up three runs, but Joey Votto and Jay Bruce were relatively quiet, relying on Ryan Ludwick, Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart to do the dirty work. If the Reds intend on winning their first ever playoff game at Great American Ballpark, those three need to come to life and the pitching needs to come around, quickly.

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