Here’s some reading material for those of you looking to multi-task while cheering for the Harpers this afternoon. Start with Mark Sheldon’s excellent game report at Reds.com:
The Reds this season have already persevered when closer Ryan Madson was lost for the year with an elbow injury in Spring Training. When a knee injury knocked best player Joey Votto out for six weeks in July, they rallied and, yes, even prospered.Ã‚Â So what did Cincinnati do when ace Johnny Cueto was overtaken by back spasms two batters into his Game 1 start of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on Saturday night?Ã‚Â They picked each other up and found a way through. In stunning fashion, the Reds prevented the Giants from capitalizing on their misfortune and got home runs from Brandon Phillips — who had three hits and three RBIs in a big night — and Jay Bruce. Then they held on to steal a 5-2 win in front of 43,492 vibrant fans and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Read the take from the Giants home paper, the San Francisco Chronicle:
The 2010 postseason started with something magical whenÃ‚Â Tim LincecumÃ‚Â struck out 14 in a shutout of Atlanta at AT&T Park. There was magic inside for the 2012 postseason opener as well. You just had to be wearing red to enjoyÃ‚Â it.Ã‚Â Cincinnati beatÃ‚Â the GiantsÃ‚Â and Matt Cain 5-2 Saturday night after overcoming the kind of blow that can cripple a team when starterÃ‚Â Johnny CuetoÃ‚Â had to leave eight pitches into the first inning with backÃ‚Â spasms.Ã‚Â The Giants got a huge break, not having to face the third-place finisher in the National League ERA race and forcing the Reds to scramble for 26Ã‚Â outs.Ã‚Â Rather than scramble, four Cincinnati pitchers suffocated the Giants for 8 2/3 innings and brought the Reds their first postseason win sinceÃ‚Â 1995.Ã‚Â Longtime Giants nemesisÃ‚Â Mat Latos, who had been scheduled to start Game 3 in Cincinnati, took the ball on three days’ rest. Pitching in relief for the first time since Class A ball in 2009, he held San Francisco to a Buster Posey solo homer in fourÃ‚Â innings.
Jeff Sullivan’s detailed game report with video at Fangraphs:
With the bases loaded in the second inning of a scoreless game, Matt Cain drilled a line drive to the right-center gap. The line drive was caught on theÃ‚Â
runÃ‚Â jog, but you know how people have told you before that baseball is a game of inches? Those people might be stupid people, but in that instance, they were not being stupid. Close plays are close to being other plays. Even non-close plays are close to being other plays.Ã‚Â In the second, Matt Cain got burned by some bad luck. In the top of the third, Matt Cain got burned by Matt Cain. Cain was ahead ofBrandon PhillipsÃ‚Â 1-and-2 with a runner on when he made a miserable mistake:Ã‚Â Buster PoseyÃ‚Â wanted Cain to throw Phillips a breaking ball just off the plate outside. Cain probably thought that was a pretty good idea. The execution was lacking.
Bay area writer Zachary Rymer explains that Cueto’s injury may help the Reds win the series:
As forÃ‚Â Latos, there’s a chance that he could start Game 4 on Wednesday if the series lasts that long. He’d be pitching on three days of rest, but that may be enough seeing as howÃ‚Â LatosÃ‚Â only had to throw 57 pitches in his four innings on Saturday night.Ã‚Â It’s a shame for the Giants that he didn’t throw more than that, as they’re in no real hurry to faceÃ‚Â LatosÃ‚Â again. Not including his performance on Saturday night,Ã‚Â LatosÃ‚Â has a career 2.19 ERA against the Giants, and that comes complete with an opponents’ OPS of .529. He showed on Saturday night that he still has the Giants pretty deep in his back pocket.Ã‚Â And now the Giants are looking at the prospect of having to face him twice in the same series, whereas before they would have only faced him once. Worse, they could be facingÃ‚Â LatosÃ‚Â at a venue where he has a 3.18 ERA, and the pitcher tasked with beating him could be Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito or RyanVogelsong.Ã‚Â All three of them are very much beatable.
An Associated Press story on Dusty Baker’s return to San Francisco and his reflections on the passage of time since he last managed in the World Series:
The Barry Bonds-led Giants fell six outs short of a World Series title in Game 6 against the wild-card Angels, then lost Game 7. And Baker was gone shortly thereafter, off to the Windy City for the daunting challenge of managing the Chicago Cubs.Ã‚Â “Sometimes it stings at me, but you’ve got to leave it in the past,” Baker said. “You can’t live in the future and stay in the past. But I’m still here. I have an opportunity to win a championship here, and it lets you know exactly that time never stops. Time goes very quickly. Doesn’t seem like 10 years ago, doesn’t seem like 10 years ago my boy was 3 years old, being pulled off the mound. It lets me know that I’m getting older.”
A Game Two preview by C. Trent Rosecrans over at CBS Sports:
After the Reds’ bullpen went 8 2/3 on Saturday, it seems a little odd to talk about starting pitching matchups, but it can’t happen again, can it?Ã‚Â Johnny CuetoÃ‚Â left Saturday’s game after just eight pitches, turning the game over toÃ‚Â Sam LeCure,Ã‚Â Mat Latos,Ã‚Â Sean Marshall,Ã‚Â Jonathan BroxtonÃ‚Â andÃ‚Â Aroldis Chapman. The Reds bullpen has been a strength all season, but Saturday’s performance was ridiculous.Ã‚Â The Reds used just six starters all season — with Cueto, Latos,Ã‚Â Homer Bailey,Ã‚Â Bronson ArroyoÃ‚Â andÃ‚Â Mike LeakeÃ‚Â each making at least 30 starts. The only other pitcher to start for the Reds wasÃ‚Â Todd Redmond, who started the second game of a doubleheader in August. It was his only appearance of the season.Ã‚Â While there has been some consternation about the fairness of a the team with home-field advantage starting on the road, the Reds’ Game 1 victory at AT&T Park putsÃ‚Â CincinnatiÃ‚Â in the driver’s seat, regardless of what happens on Sunday. If the Reds win on Sunday, it could be a death sentence for theÃ‚Â Giants.Ã‚Â It’s Bronson Arroyo (12-10, 3.74) for the Reds againstÃ‚Â Madison BumgarnerÃ‚Â (16-11, 3.37) of the Giants — or so we think.
Corey Brock, Giants reporter for MLB, discusses recent mechanical work by today’s Game Two starter Madison Bumgarner:
In the seven days that have passed since Madison Bumgarner struggled mightily in his last start, when he needed 76 pitches to cover four innings in a loss to the Padres, he’s worked diligently to get his mechanics in order for the postseason.Ã‚Â On Sunday, when Bumgarner gets the start in Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Reds at 9:30 p.m. ET on TBS, the Giants will find out if a week of side work and mechanical fixes have alleviated a rough, seven-game stretch Bumgarner endured to end the regular season.