Thursday, October 11, 2012

Giants send Reds to a bitter season end

 
The 2012 season for the Reds came to a screeching halt on Thursday afternoon as the Giants completed an improbable NLDS comeback by winning Game Five, 6-4, before a somber Great American Ball Park crowd. In defeat, Cincinnati becomes the first National League team (out of 22) to blow a 2-0 lead in the LDS since the Wild Card Era began in 1995. San Francisco, on the other hand, advances to the NLCS for the right to take on either St. Louis or Washington.

Neither team had reason to complain about who they sent out to the mound to start the game. The Giants sent out their ace Matt Cain while the Reds trotted out their best available starter in Mat Latos. It certainly looked like a pitcher's duel on paper, but the game didn't play out that way as offense took precedent in the winner-take-all affair.

The highlight of the game came in the top of the fifth when Buster Posey launched a grand slam homer off Latos that nearly landed in the upper deck. The silence around the stadium at that point was deafening as it gave San Francisco a 6-0 lead. The Reds scratched a few runs across here and there, and even managed to stage some threats, but the deficit proved to be insurmountable.

Here's a look at the good, bad, and notables from the final contest of the year:

The Good:
+ Brandon Phillips stepped up huge in this series (9-24, 7 RBI, 3 2B). The Gold Glove second basemen ripped a 2-run double to put the home team on the board in the fifth.
+ Sean Marshall contributed two huge innings of scoreless relief to keep his team in the game.
+ Ryan Ludwick further cemented his standing as the best Reds offseason signing with a huge series. He smacked his third homer of the NLDS in the sixth -- a solo shot -- and also chipped in an RBI-single in the ninth as well.
+ Scott Rolen tallied a couple of hits in what may very well have been his last game in a Hall of Fame-caliber career. What he'll be remembered for, however, is his costly error in Game Three and striking out to end Game Five.
+ Cincinnati could have mailed it in after getting down 6-0, but they kept fighting until the very end, and that's all you can really ask for as a fan of any team.

The Bad:
+ The magical season that was is now officially over. And the manner in which it ended is sure to make for a long offseason around the Queen City. As successful as it was, (99 wins, NL Central Champs, second-best record in baseball) the end result fell shy of the expectations set for this club back in Spring Training.
+ Cincy needed their prized offseason acquisition to come through in the clutch. Unfortunately, Latos did not. He fared well through the first four frames before allowing a whopping six runs in the top of the fifth -- four of which came via a grand slam by Buster Posey.
+ The Redlegs may have foiled their own chances at a big inning by literally running into trouble in the sixth. With runners on first and second with no outs and Ryan Hanigan at the plate, Dusty Baker rolled the dice and lost by putting the runners in motion. Jay Bruce, the lead runner, was tagged out at third after Hanigan went down looking on strikes.
+ No more Reds baseball in 2012. :(

The Notables:
+ The Reds hadn't lost three straight at home all season long prior to today.
+ 44,142 fans were in attendance to watch the decisive affair. That's the fourth largest crowd in GABP history.
+ Reds Hall of Famer George Foster threw out the game's ceremonial first pitch.
+ BOTTOM LINE: THE REDS HAD THREE TRIES AT HOME TO WIN ONE GAME IN A PLAYOFF SITUATION AND FAILED. IF YOU CANNOT SECURE A VICTORY UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU DON'T DESERVE TO ADVANCE ANYWAY. I BELIEVE ANY REALISTIC FAN WOULD AGREE.

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