Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….

National League Division Series, Game One
Cincinnati 5
San Francisco 2

W: S. LeCure (1-0)
L: M. Cain (0-1)

Reds lead series, 1-0

–With one out in the first inning, Johnny Cueto was forced to leave the game with back spasms. I’m not sure you can think of a worse way to begin this National League Division Series. Every fan in the Nation felt sick to their stomach. For a while.

Well, Sam LeCure came on to pitch and tossed 1.2 innings of shutout relief. Then Game 3’s scheduled starter Mat Latos emerged from the bullpen — on three days rest — and threw four very strong innings, allowing only one run (on a Buster Posey homer). Outstanding work by Latos and LeCure.

–Brandon Phillips was the biggest, brightest star on the field tonight. BP went 3-5 with a run scored and 3 RBI, and with everyone still nervous about losing Cueto, Phillips slugged a two-run homer in the third to give the Reds a 2-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Phillips also did a nice job on the basepaths, and defensively, as usual. On one particular play, in the sixth inning, Scott Rolen threw a ball away (more on that in a moment), but BP was hustling all the way to back up the play. BP made an incredible diving save that kept the ball from scooting away, and kept a runner from getting into scoring position.

–He’s been slumping for a while, but Jay Bruce was absolutely locked in tonight. I don’t have to tell you: that’s a great development for the Redlegs. Bruce was 2-4 with a double and a long homer off Matt Cain. He also crushed a ball to center field that was caught.

–And let’s not forget Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton, either. In all, LeCure, Latos, Marshall, and Broxton threw seven and two-thirds innings of one-run ball.

–Ryan Ludwick made two very good defensive plays in left field.

–Scott Rolen threw two balls away tonight. Both were tough plays, admittedly, but still…I don’t remember Rolen throwing two balls away in three years.

–Aroldis Chapman gave up a run in the bottom of the ninth, and he looked very shaky. I don’t worry about Chapman, though. (He did strike out Buster Posey with a 100 mph fastball to end the game, though.)

–A win! Now that’s the way to begin this postseason. I can’t put it into words, but you’ve probably noticed: there’s a different vibe around this team. They seem confident, they don’t get rattled. It’s just a different team than the 2010 version who clearly weren’t ready for prime-time.

–That game was complete insanity from beginning to end. A rollercoaster, from Cueto’s injury to BP’s homer to some tense moments late in the game. Playoff baseball is fun.

–If Jay Bruce gets hot and stays hot in this postseason, the Reds are going to be very tough to beat.

–We’re all worried about Cueto, but there’s some thought that he might be able to pitch in game three. Cueto only threw eight pitches tonight, after all. If he can come back in game three or four, it changes the complexion of this series.

–When Cueto was injured, the television cameras focused on Mat Latos in the dugout. Latos was standing up, raising his hands; he clearly wanted to come in the game. It was kinda awesome, honestly. You just gotta love that guy.

That’s a great point by Chris. Mat Latos wasn’t an obvious choice; he could have let LeCure keep going. It was the right choice, however. Kudos, Dusty.

–Raise your hand if you thought Homer Bailey would be the first pinch-hitter in the NLDS.

–Admit it: we would have been very happy if the Reds were only able to win one game in San Francisco. Well, that’s out of the way. Cincinnati is really in the driver’s seat now.

–There was a floating DeLorean in McCovey Cove, and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

–If you had told me in 1995 that Cincinnati’s next playoff win would be in 2012…well, I wouldn’t have believed it.

–San Francisco fans gave Dusty Baker a huge ovation before the game. Of course, they proceeded to ruin that goodwill by cheering when Johnny Cueto got injured.

–Those were the first runs Matt Cain has ever given up in the playoffs.

–Reds only need ten more wins!

–Game two tomorrow, same time. A win tomorrow would be huge. Bronson Arroyo will make the start, and I’d love to see good Bronson.


34 Responses

  1. Sergeant2

    Playoff Baseball is fun! Really? Tell that to the red paddle marks on my chest. Go Reds! All jokes aside, it was a tremendous win for the Reds, all things considered.

  2. tpteach

    And later, when Rolen had a simple grounder, he double and triple pumped before aiming his throw across the diamond. Wonder if the two prior mistakes were in his head.

    Baker is so loyal to his vets. Only reason I can think of that Cairo is on this postseason roster.

  3. dc937

    I would love to see the Giants taking big, bad, Bronson Arroyo lightly going into tomorrow’s game. He can induce a lot of lazy fly balls on his good nights, and he definitely has the potential to go for 7 shutout innings at AT&T Park.

    Favorite parts of tonight’s game: LeCure’s beard on national TV, Phillips’ baserunning, both Reds HRs, Ludwick’s catches, and perhaps my favorite, Broxton’s striking out Gregor Blanco to end the 8th.

    This game has given me such great enthusiasm about the rest of the postseason. Last time the Reds won a postseason game I was just shy of seven years old. 😀

  4. JerBear

    Dusty Baker really deserves credit for how he managed this game. I’ve been a critic of Dusty, but he and the coaching staff seem really made a smart/bold move with bringing in Latos.

    I think this could still be a tough series, but I’m impressed that the Reds won largely with their depth as whole. That seems to be the strength they have over all the other playoff teams, but I think a lot of people thought a short series would negate the perceived advantage the Reds have with their pitching depth.

    This series is pretty interesting. Most experts were picking the Giants it seems. Maybe the Reds have the Giants rattled after Game 1. I think this was quite a blow to the Giants confidence for the rest of the series.

  5. Crab Bisque

    The word from tonight’s Recap: “Rollercoaster”. I love playoff baseball.

  6. Mwv

    I don’t think Joey looked horrible at first tonight. He didn’t look “Votto” at first tonight but that’s a far cray from being as bad as people are making it sound. We get spoiled I think. If I had to guess he was a little stiff out there in a big game for whatever reason. As usual I think he will recognize it and step up his game from here on out. That’s just the kind of player he is. As for Rolen I’m really not sure what was going on with him.

    That’s just nitpicking though; that was the best game of baseball I’ve seen in a long long time simply because of the win and all the circumstances involved. Also, I said it before and I’ll say it again.. other teams should fear us in the playoffs. All it takes is a few guys having a hot night (check) and our defense (check) and pitching (double and triple check) will bring it home for us.

    AT&T park also might as well be our home away from home. It’s the kind of park our pitchers drool about visiting and clearly our guys still have enough pop to push it out of that place.

  7. MikeC

    The offense was alive and well – 9 H, 2 HR, 5 R. Chapman was scarey. He ended up throwing more pitches in his one inning than LeCure threw in his 1-2/3.

    I thought Dusty handled the pitching emergency well, bringing in the reliever LeCure first and allowing Latos plenty of time to warm up. Not so sure about his pinch hitting choices – Baiey in to bunt in the 3rd when Valdez was available. I was holding my breath hoping he didn’t get hurt running the bases. Guess there was no reson to worry as he struck out. Cairo to PH for Latos? Latos probably had a better chance of getting on base.

  8. mthomas5810

    I really thought Dusty handled last night brilliantly, and I have been critical of him at times. The knee jerk reaction would have been to bring in Latos right away, but bringing in a starter cold is not a good thing. So he let Sam LeCure pitch until his spot in the batting order came up, so Latos would have plenty of time to warm up. Very smart. Now we can go Cueto in game 3 if he is healthy or Homer Bailey if Cueto can’t go. We are set up well moving forward

  9. BenL

    Partly because he gets a lot of flack, I want to add Stubbs to the positive list: 1 H with a run scored and a run scoring play cutting off a ball in the gap that I’m very doubtful Heisey would have made. That’s a pretty good game.

    Reading through the game thread, I have give give kudos to Hoodlum for his pregame prediction:

    Drew Stubbs. He’s gonna get an important hit and make a big play on D.

    I would never have guessed the important hit part.

  10. mthomas5810

    I sometimes get the feeling that starting pitchers take ownership of the game they are scheduled to start only, and they are just spectators for the other games. But Latos really showed me last night that he is a team player and would do whatever it takes to help the team win. The way he immediately volunteered to go in the game earned major props with me, more than he already had.

  11. stormbringer

    Just arrived back in the US, arrived at our rental home about 10 minutes before game time – what a great way to start a vacation, especially after Lufthansa left all six of our bags in Frankfurt.

    Even better, my daughters are walking around singing Bronson’s sweatshirt song this morning…….lets go up 2-0 tonight Bronson!

  12. BenL

    @mthomas5810: Yeah, Latos looked like a big kid in the dug out. He wants to pitch and he wants to win. “Put me in coach, I can do it!” It sure is looking like he is worth everything we gave up for him.

  13. BenL

    If the Reds go on to win the World Series, people will still be talking about last night’s game in 50 years. People will still be talking about our 2010 playoff debut in 50 years, too, but I much prefer this one.

  14. stormbringer

    Agree with everyone that Dusty handled the Cueto situation perfectly, and Latos now stands alongside LeCure as my favorite Reds pitchers. Latos was an absolute beast given the situation, and I expect him to continue on and be our ace moving forward.

    My biggest quibbles from the game would be Homer pinch hitting (honestly, isn’t that type of situation the reason Cairo is on the postseason roster?), and both Brox and Aroldis had me pretty worried.

    Looking forward to tonight – I’m guessing we see Frazier at 3B, and am a bit curious to see how we handle the back end of the ‘pen if needed given the amount of pitches Aroldis threw last night. Of course, I hope to see how we handle it as that would mean we’re ahead late in the game…….

  15. BenL

    @reagansdaddy: To say that pitching a Cy Young candidate in game one of a playoff series is “silly” is, frankly, silly. You can reasonably disagree with the decision, but silly? Really?

  16. pleimanj

    The game was great! The best part was watching the Reds and Buckeyes at the same time on separate TVs we had set up in one room. Never down to long! At one point we are upset over a fumble then yelling “other TV” to watch Bruce hit a home run. Great stuff!

  17. hoodlum

    For all the noise we make about Dusty, I thought the moment of the night on him was the shot of him with his arm around LeCure in the dugout after Sam had finished. Both were genuinely happy to be in that moment with each other. That really says a lot to me. X’s and O’s is part of his job, but so is leadership. He showed me some last night.

    Lets go redlegs.

  18. vicferrari

    I worry that Dusty’s going to think the Marshall-7th-Broxton8th- Chapman9th is a recipe that will always taste good. If Arroyo has about 80 pitches after 6 and is leading or tied, I say leave him in. It is great if you need them, but I think Latos could have gone 2 more innings…if Cueto can go in game 3 or 4 then no worries, but I would think if he cannot get himself ready for Game 1 how is he going to recover in a few days? Possibly this is just a fluke, but the look reminds me a lot of how Rijo looked in 1995 (I imagine they are totally different injuries)-it only took him 7 years to return.

  19. hoodlum

    Even if Latos has “as long as he needs” under the rule, the inertia of the moment would have made him hurry if he didn’t know LeCure was giving him time to breathe. Nobody should have second guessed Dusty for bringing in a reliever to relieve, even if he got shelled. Thankfully he didn’t.

  20. Mwv

    I know that I’m in a minority of one here apparently, but I still think Dusty was wrong in his decision last night. IF he was going to use Latos, then there was no reason to use LeCure b/c as I understand the rule, he had as much time to get ready as he needed. There was no need to use LeCure.

    It’s great that he pitched well, but that doesn’t prove that this was a good decision.

    Rather than using the rules and taking their time to get their best pitcher ready, they went with a lesser talent, then went to their best pitcher. I have to wonder if folks would still be claiming this was a good idea if LeCure got shelled.

    I don’t think that’s mismanagement though. If LeCure gets shelled I think we’d hear a lot more of “rough break with our ace going down” than we would “stupid Dusty why didn’t you pitch Latos???”. Just speculation but I know that’s what my own reaction would have been. As for going to Latos instead of LeCure I think that’s just flat out a judgement call and I’m glad I didn’t have to be the one making it. Either choice has upsides and downsides. Just glad we got through the moment and our guys toughed it out. We have the best staff in the league, period. I don’t care what anyone else says, last night proved it.

  21. BenL

    @Hank Aarons Teammate: You are exactly right, I think. LeCure was going to pitch a couple of innings either way. He’s much more used to coming out of the bullpen than Latos, so why not throw him in their first, see what happens, and give Latos a couple inning to get into the game mindset. It’s one thing to say that they have as much time as they need, but it’s a whole other thing to go through your “normal” 20 minutes of warm up on the game mound in front of tens of thousand of people. And it worked. A good outcome doesn’t necessarily incate a good decision, but it is certainly evidence of a good decision. I think Dusty did everything exactly right here, even though the option he chose wasn’t immediately obvious (to me, anyway).

  22. sezwhom1

    A win is a win so I won’t quibble but two moments stand out: Yes, Lecure was a savior but he barely got out of the 2nd. Cain ripped a liner with the bases juiced but thankfully, Bruce caught it. Let’s not forget Brandon Belt’s screamer vs. Latos where Votto caught it for a DP. Either one of those gets down and we probably aren’t winning Game 1.

    There is absolutely no reason for us to attempt a bunt anymore. Except for Cueto and Heisey, we can’t do it. Don’t give up the out. It’s mind-numbing how this team can’t advance a runner via the bunt so why bother! Bailey & Cozart both failed.

    BP was definitely the MVP of Game 1. Kudos to Latos but he loves AT&T so I wasn’t surprised. He should have been scheduled to pitch either Game 1 or 2. He loves facing the Giants and proved it again last nightl

  23. hoodlum

    Cain getting those pitches early is precisely why I thought the Missle got squeezed.

  24. hoodlum

    Cain getting those pitches early is precisely why I thought the Missle got squeezed.

  25. littleleo1

    Wow ..last night’s game was total torture … but geeezzzz .. Is Baseball a grand game or what ? .. Lets pounce on them Giants again tonight .. Go Bronson!

  26. tpteach

    While I think SOME credit goes to Duaty on the move (it worked) it’s not as though this wasn’t PRE-PLANNED. Cueto had back spasms prior to the game. There was a question of whether or not he would even pitch game 1. They (Jocketty, Dusty, Speier, Price) way before the first pitch. And, when it happened, Dusty simply followed the plan.

    It turned out to be a good plan, but it’s not like it was some last-minute managerial zen moment.

  27. Billy Joe in Chi-Town

    There was some good fortune in favor of the Reds but (i) there always is when a team wins an evenly matched contest, (ii) you still have to catch the “at-em” balls and the Reds did, and (iii) there were also a couple of “at-em” balls hit by the Reds also. Things tend to even out over a series, so be ready for some eventually going the other way (unless you are the Braves).

    No one mentions it, but I thought Chapman was nervous–rushing his motion and pace a bit. He is young and hasn’t pitched in an important series like this at this level, so I don’t know why that would be surprising. It is probably best that he got his “playoff feet” wet with a 5-1 lead, he’ll do better with his nerves and pacing next game I would think. Also, note that Dusty had Hoover warming up in the ninth, so it’s possible we may see Hoover at some point tomorrow.

  28. rfay00

    Here’s to a hopeful great day of CIN sports.

    How big would it be for the Reds to be up 2-0 heading home for 3 games?

    Who-Dey! Let’s go Reds! Woooooooooooooooo!

  29. Johnu1

    Pitching thoughts:

    Chappy will simmer down. When he does, he will be able to prove to the ump that he has his command. If the ump is convinced, Chappy will be unbeatable. That’s what happened when he had that hot streak. The umps were convinced his 100 heater was going to be close enough. Hitters, knowing that, are helpless.

    Arredondo may come down with a mystery injury between now and the flight home that will allow Leake to be added to the roster.

  30. musicjoker319

    @Bill Lack: Bill about not pitching Latos right away. Latos wasn’t going to go deep into the game. He would have been taken out by the 5th inning (3 days rest, 20 pitch bullpen session). Now you are really using your bullpen up starting from the 5th inning on. Using LeCue who has mental toughness and has improved his pitching this year made sense to use him as the bridge to Latos.

  31. Billy Joe in Chi-Town

    The good news is that this was a pretty unique situation (we hope) and there really is no “right” decision, just a number of options with different pros and cons. Sounds like they may have had their plan set in advance based on the Cueto injury complaint during warmups, so they stuck with it.

  32. musicjoker319

    @Bill Lack: Price said in an article by John Fay how pleased he was Latos went 4 innings. As stated before on 3 days rest and a bullpen session. I’m assuming the bullpen session was the day of the game. Either way it worked out well. LeCue normally wouldn’t be used in a game anyways unless something goes wrong so using him there was ok with me.

    It worked out very well and must be a big confident boost to the whole team.