Red Take Game One

Game one of the Reds' divisional series was supposed to be a matchup between two aces at San Francisco. Instead it was a matchup between Matt Cain and the Cincinnati bullpen including an emergency appearance by Mat Latos. The Reds came out on top 5-2. Brandon Phillips led the attack with three hits and two RBI including a two-run homer that plated the first runs of the game.

The Cincinnati Reds have endured injury all year long. Before the season started they lost closer Ryan Madson to Tommy John surgery. They responded by putting together a bullpen that allowed the lowest reliever ERA in the MLB. Joey Votto was a contender for his second MVP award before missing the month of August with a knee surgery. During that time they expanded their division lead en route to becoming the first team to clinch this season. Incredibly the original quintet in their opening day rotation had not missed a start this season and that was the only portion of their roster that had evaded the injury bug...until last night.

Johnny Cueto was removed after only eight pitches in the divisional series opener due to back spasms. The Reds overcame again by winning their first postseason game in seventeen years at San Francisco by a score of 5-2. Sam LeCure relieved him in the first inning and held the Giants scoreless through the second. Manager Dusty Baker then made a decision to use Game 3 starter Mat Latos in relief and he provided four innings while giving up only one run. Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton each threw a scoreless inning before Aroldis Chapman gave up one run in the ninth to finish the contest. LeCure picked up the win while Matt Cain took the loss.

Offensively Brandon Phillips gave the Reds the lead with a two-run home run in the third. Jay Bruce added on the next inning with a solo homer to give them a 3-0 lead. Buster Posey got one of the runs back when he led off the sixth with a solo shot. Phillips struck again in the ninth with an RBI single following hits by Ryan Hanigan and Xavier Paul. Paul capped off the scoring by advancing from second on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Things got tense in the ninth when Chapman loaded the bases with one out. One runner scored on a wild pitch before he struck out Posey to end the game. Leadoff hitter Phillips led the Redleg attack with three hits and Bruce added two.

It was a gutsy move by Baker. Latos made the first relief appearance of his career on three day's rest and had thrown a bullpen session earlier in the day. Had the Reds not managed to hold the lead they could have gone down one game with uncertainty on starters later. Instead it guaranteed them no worse than a split on the road before finishing the series at home. Their injury-riddled bullpen has been solid all season and they still have three fresh arms ready for Game Two.

Cueto is listed as "day-to-day" and during the game Reds GM Walt Jocketty told TBS during the broadcast that they were hopeful that he will recover in time to start Game Three. If not it's likely that Homer Bailey will be moved up and he is riding a streak of fourteen scoreless innings including the franchise's first no-hitter in twenty four years.

The pressure is now on the Giants in Game Two when they run out Madison Bumgarner to face veteran Bronson Arroyo on Sunday. They must win in order to avoid a scenario that would require a three game sweep on the road for survival. The 35 year-old Arroyo is 12-10/3.74 on the season and has a 3.12 ERA over 66 innings in his last ten starts. He's faced the Giants twice this year without a decision while allowing three earned runs in eleven innings. The southpaw Bumgarner has won sixteen games while keeping his ERA at 3.37 and threw a shutout in his only appearance against the Reds. The Reds are 32-18 against lefty starters this year.

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