It's on to the decisive Game 5 now, but it certainly did not seem like it would last that long in the early going of this one.
The Giants appeared doomed, as starter Barry Zito couldn't find the strike zone and wound up getting pulled after allowing four walks and two runs in just 2.2 innings. San Francisco's bullpen successfully picked up the slack, which included Tim Lincecum looking like the Big Time Timmy Jim of old.
In all, the Giants' pen combined for 6.1 innings of one-run ball.
Redleg Nation knows opportunity when it sees it:
The wheels are coming off of Barry Zito really fast. Reds need to tack some on before the Giants go to the pen.— Redleg Nation (@redlegnation) October 10, 2012
This tweet could not have proved to be more accurate.
Redleg Nation certainly did not have a monopoly on accurate tweets predicting the future. I'd be shocked if this tweet by Bleacher Report's Adam Wells doesn't end up being true if the opportunity presents itself:
If the #Giants advance, safe to assume Big Time Timmy Jim will start a game, right?— Adam Wells (@adamwells1985) October 10, 2012
The Giants will be on the road for Game 5, but don't look for that to rattle these road warriors. ESPN passed along this stat:
If Giants win, will be their 4th straight postseason road win (dating back to 2010). That would match best such streak in franchise history— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 10, 2012
ESPN also passed along this gem that shows just how impressive Pablo Sandoval's day was:
Giants 3B with 3 RBI in postseason game-- Buck Herzog (1912), Matt Williams (1989), Juan Uribe (2010) and now Pablo Sandoval— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 10, 2012
I swear, there are stats for everything in baseball. It's great. Anyway, Sandoval did indeed have a fine day, which we will revisit in the grades section.
Grades for Key Players
Barry Zito, Giants: D+
Zito was terrible. He had no control and almost doomed the Giants before this game got out of the first inning.
However, he was that bad and still managed to allow just two runs. It could have been much worse, and the fact it wasn't allowed the Giants bullpen to save this game and keep Zito from an "F."
Tim Lincecum, Giants: A
Almost as exciting as the win for the Giants has to be how good Lincecum looked. He ended up going 4.1 innings, allowing just two hits and a run and striking out six.
Lincecum picked up the win, and it is important to note that he did not issue a walk, as his lack of control has plagued him in his rough year.
Given this solid performance, look for Lincecum to move back into the starting rotation should the Giants advance.
Pablo Sandoval, Giants: A-
Pablo Sandoval dialed in during this game. He finished 3-for-4 with three RBI and a two-run home run in the key seventh inning, where the Giants hung three runs to give themselves a five-run cushion.
The Giants will be in good shape if he can turn this strong game into a hot streak.
Mike Leake, Reds: D-
Reds starter Mike Leake had far better control than Zito, but he was equally terrible and proved to be less effective. He ended up allowing five runs in 4.1 innings.
Leake (8-9) was thrust into this start due to the injury of Johnny Cueto and Dusty Baker's desire to keep Mat Latos for the next game. He was not expected to go and pitch a shutout, but the Reds needed a better outing than this.
Jose Arredondo, Reds: F
I was going to give Leake an "F," but then I realized there would not be a letter low enough for Arredondo. He managed to record just one out while allowing three runs, a walk and a home run in the seventh inning when the Giants blew the game open.
Obviously, the Reds need Arredondo, who finished the regular season with a 2.95 ERA, to be far better.
Game 5 is next! It is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 11 with first pitch at 1:07 p.m. ET.