Imagine you have played 162 games and secured the #2 seed on the National League playoffs. Now imagine that even though you have the second best record in baseball, you have to travel across the country and play on the west coast. Top it off, imagine that your ace pitcher pitches to a grand total of 1 battter and then leaves the game with back spasms. What are your chances of winning? Such is the case for the Cincinnati Reds. How they won that opening game is, really, a wonder. How did they end up winning game one of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, 5-2? It’s what I said would win the seiries for them – pitching and defense.
Pitching – When Johnny Cueto went down in the first inning for the Cincinnati Reds, Dusty Baker turned a disasterous situation into one that clearly gives the Reds the upper hand as the series goes forward. He was able to turn to the bullpen and bring in Sam Lecure to get the Reds through to the 3rd inning. LeCure gave Mat Latos the opportunity to stretch, put on his cup and come out to pitch a whale of a game. Latos got them to the 7th inning and only gave up the one run (solo shot by Buster Posey). The Reds were now in line to bring in the back end of the bullpen – Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman. Although they made it interesting at times, the Giants were only able to score 1 run (wild pitch by Chapman in the 9th).
Defense – The Cincinnati Reds proved again that they are the best fielding team in the league last night. There were at least 6 moments in the game that showed this prowess and kept the Giants from scoring. If it wasn’t Drew Stubbs running down a shot to the gap, it was Joey Votto snagging a line drive shot and turning in a double play. Or, it could’ve been Ryan Ludwick’s diving or backpeddling catches in leftfield and Brandon Phillips making another barehanded catch and throw or backing up Votto to save a run.
To put it bluntly, the Cincinnati Reds simply played playoff baseball and now they are set to bring back their ace to pitch in game 3 at Cincinnati. Disaster turned into opportunity and the Reds took it.