NLDS Game 3: San Francisco Giants 2, Cincinnati Reds 1

San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Sergio Romo throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the 10th inning during Game 3 of the National League division baseball series, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Cincinnati. The Giants won 2-1 to cut their playoff deficit to 2-1. (AP Photo/David Kohl)


Game 1: Reds 5, Giants 2
Game 2: Reds 9, Giants 0
Game 3: Giants 2, Reds 1
Game 4: Giants (Zito) at Reds (TBA), 1:07 p.m. Wednesday (TBS)
Game 5: Giants at Reds, 10:07 a.m. (or 11:07 a.m.), Thursday (TBS)

Incredibly, inexplicably, the Giants are not dead yet.

Buster Posey scored on an error by Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, who could not field a grounder off the bat of Joaquin Arias cleanly enough to throw him out with two out in the top of the 10th.

And the Giants won 2-1, despite the fact that they didn’t record their first hit until the sixth inning, despite the fact that they only managed three hits total, despite the fact that in seven of the 10 innings Tuesday the Giants went down in order, despite the fact that the Giants did not get a run-scoring hit.

The Giants still aren’t hitting, but they’re still playing.

They won because of a solid five outings from Ryan Vogelsong and five more shutout innings from the bullpen.

It was a very 2010 pitching performance.

But it was a very un-2010 performance by manager Bruce Bochy. Watching the game, we kept wondering if the skipper’s questionable move were eventually going to end the Giants’ hopes.

Ultimately, it was a questionable call by the former Giants manager in the Reds dugout that helped them win the game.

We’ll get to that eventually. But we’ll start with Vogelsong.

After giving up three singles and a run in the first inning, it looked like it was going to be another sub-par postseason outing by a Giants starter. Vogelsong was actually aided by Brandon Phillips’ decision to advance from first to third on a pitch that got away from catcher Buster Posey. Posey threw out Phillips at third for the inning’s first out.

After Zach Cozart walked and a Joey Votto fly out, Vogelsong gave up singles to Ryan Ludwick and Jay Bruce, scoring Cozart. But Vogey fanned Scott Rolen to end the inning.

But after the first, Vogelsong did not allow another hit to the Reds.

Meanwhile, the Reds’ Homer Bailey didn’t allow a hit to the Giants for 5 2/3 innings. But that didn’t keep the Giants off the board.

In the third, Gregor Blanco was hit by a pitch and Brandon Crawford walk. After a Vogelsong sacrifice, Angel Pagan flied to center to score Blanco.

From there it was a combination of heroes, botches by Bochy, and goofs by the Reds.

BOCHY BOTCH NO. 1: This one came even before the game started, before the series started, when Bochy decided to go with 12 pitchers on his postseason roster. He went with 11 in 2010, when he left Barry Zito off the roster. But this season, he decided to leave all five starters on the roster, meaning one would act as a long man out of the pen, completely negating the need to carry Guillermo Mota. The Giants would have been better off leaving Mota off the roster and carrying Francisco Peguero to give them a second reserve outfielder on the bench.

HERO NO. 1, RYAN VOGELSONG: Vogelsong settled down after the first, working around two walks in the third and setting down the final seven batters he faced. He finished with 5 IP, 3 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.

BOCHY BOTCH NO. 2: With Vogelsong sailing and the Giants hitless, Bochy opted to pinch-hit for Vogey with Aubrey Huff leading off the sixth. TBS analyst Ron Darling said Bochy made the move because “the Giants can’t waste outs.” Well, that’s all they have been doing all weekend. The more important goal is keep the Reds from scoring. He should have let Vogelsong hit and stay in the game for another inning. He was at 95 pitches. But his high-pitch innings came early. Instead, Huff came to the plate and struck out. Now your starter is out, you’re digging in your dugout and one of your pinch-hitters is done. Marco Scutato got the Giants’ first hit two batters later.

HERO NO. 2, JEREMY AFFELDT: Affeldt came in relief of Vogelsong and threw two shutout innings, allowing just one hit. A shutdown performance very similar to Game 6 of the 2010 NLCS in Philadelphia.

BOCHY BOTCH NO. 3: When Reds manager Dusty Baker pulled Bailey after seven one-hit innings (and 10 strikeouts and just 88 pitches thrown — thank you Dusty), lefty Sean Marshall came in the game. With two lefties (Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford) and the pitcher’s spot due up, Bochy gutted his bench, sending up three pinch-hitters to hit to get the OVERRATED righty-lefty. I can see sending up two pinch-hitters, but not three, especially with only four players left on the bench. The best move would have been to let Blanco hit, keeping Xavier Nady in reserve. Instead, Nady, Joaquin Arias and Ryan Theriot were all retired.

HERO NO. 3, HUNTER PENCE: Pence was hitless — for the series — when he came to the plate in the top of the 10th. He fouled off a pitch and landed awkwardly on his left leg, which was cramping up. Trainers came out to talk to him and he stayed in the game, eventually slapping a single into left to put runners on first and second with no out. Pence hobbled to first. In the bottom of the 10th, Pence chugged a bottle of Gatorade and made his way out to right. Luckily, the Reds never hit the ball his way.

BOCHY BOTCH NO. 4: OK, I don’t think Bochy actually botched this one, but I thought I should address it. After Pence’s single put runners on first and second with no outs, Bochy did not have Brandon Belt sacrifice. I believe it was the right call. Belt does not have a sacrifice bunt in his two years with the Giants. He hasn’t even attempted one. He has zero sacrifices in three seasons as a pro. With Pence hobbled at first, a bunt attempt that is struck too hard could have easily have turned into a double play. Fans were screaming for a sacrifice after Belt struck out, but in this case it was a good call.

REDS GAFFES NO. 1, 2 and 3: After Xavier Nady followed Belt’s whiff with one of his own, Jonathan Broxton’s first pitch to Joaquin Arias ticked off catcher Ryan Hanigan’s glove for a passed ball and both runners moved up. It was at this point that I thought Baker would walk Arias with the open base. This would accomplish three things: 1) set up a force at any base; 2) force Bochy’s hand to use his final hitter on his bench — Hector Sanchez — to bat for Sergio Romo; 3) Get Romo out of the game. Instead, he pitched to Arias, who hit a chopper to Rolen, who charged but was unable to come up with it cleanly and Arias beat out the throw, scoring Posey from third.

Romo then came back out in the 10th and set the Reds down in order, completing a six-up-six-down night.

And the Giants survive.


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