By Claire Reclosado-Baclay
Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Cincinnati Reds was disappointing for the Giants, but they still showed signs that this series wasn’t over. In tonight’s Game 2, the visiting Reds piled on the runs and beat the Giants 9-0, making it more difficult to be optimistic.
It has been said time and time again—to win it all a team needs to be clicking on all cylinders. A fabulous pitching performance doesn’t mean anything without some runs scored in support. Offense can only do so much if pitching is not strong enough to hold the opposition down.
When a team has neither, they are doomed.
In Game 2, the San Francisco Giants couldn’t hit. Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, who, prior to tonight’s game, hadn’t won a game against the Giants since August 31, 2008, had the Giants hitless for 4 2/3 innings. With a perfect game broken up and it being the lineup’s second time around, it was time for the bats to wake up.
But they didn’t.
Pitching did not fare much better, as the Reds tacked on run after run, handing the Giants another loss. Bumgarner lasted only 4.1 innings as he allowed four runs and seven hits, striking out four batters. George Kontos came in to pitch 0.2 innings and Tim Lincecum entered the game at the top of the sixth. Lincecum’s presence ignited the fans in AT&T Park as he gave up only one hit as he struck out two batters.
Ironically, the Lincecum many expected to show up during the regular season made his appearance for two innings of relief in the postseason.
The euphoria triggered by Lincecum didn’t last long as the Giants failed to give the crowd more to cheer about. By the time Arroyo was replaced in the beginning of the eighth inning, San Francisco was already down 9-0 and still unable to get a runner in scoring position.
Though the Giants did not get home field advantage, starting the series with two games at home made it feel like they did have the upper hand. This team that was so successful at AT&T Park will now become the visiting team versus a team that has the most wins at home in the National League with 50 (tied with Washington and St. Louis).
Can the Giants travel to Cincinnati and win three in a row? Every postseason we hear the same cliché, “anything can happen.”
It can happen, but this absent offense and unreliable pitching of the postseason Giants need to revert back to their regular season effectiveness that got them the title of NL West Champions.
Following the game, the gravity of the night’s loss was clearly felt through the eerily quiet clubhouse. San Francisco knows what it takes to get to the next round. Knowing is one thing, making it happen is another.
“We just have to swing the bats better. Gotta hit better. Gotta score more runs,” outfielder Hunter Pence said. “Personally, I haven’t gotten a hit yet, so that’s pretty tough. I don’t know. We’re just not hitting.”
Earlier, Ryan Vogelsong was named San Francisco’s Game 3 starter. To keep the team alive he needs to tap into what earned him the nickname “Vogelstrong” and bring the starting pitching back up to par.
“I think the way Ryan has been throwing the ball his last couple of starts, he’s been on with his command, his “stuff,” and we like where he’s at right now,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s the guy we should have out there on Game 3.”
San Francisco has a day to regroup, refocus, and reignite the team. On Tuesday, they will either win or begin their offseason.
“At this point, we’re faced with adversity. This is when you find out what you’re made of,” said Pence “All of us gotta come together, pull together. We got to not think of what just happened these two games. That’s over with. We got to win one game at a time. We got to find a way to learn from what’s happened.”
Even when handed the worst postseason loss in franchise history, the Giants know that, while the odds are against them, they are not out of it yet. Amazing things happen in October, whether it will happen to this team is yet to be determined.
“We’re not done yet,” Bumgarner said. “It’s happened before to teams and they’ve come back and win, just doesn’t happen very often. It has been done before. We’re going to keep fighting ‘til the end.”
Claire Reclosado-Baclay is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco Giants. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.