By Claire Reclosado-Baclay
With the San Francisco Giants down 0-2 in the best-of-five National League Division Series, it’s time for the team to dig deep. Having to travel to Cincinnati and sweep the Reds is not an easy feat—something everyone, including the Giants, is aware of.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy knows that it’s on the mind of his team, but also knows that the team cannot dwell on the negative.
“I think you have to remind them it’s the best of 5 and you may be going against odds,” Bochy said on Monday. “You understand that, but it’s happened before in baseball and there has been a lot of different teams that have mounted pretty good come backs. You can go back—Boston, they had to win 4 in a row. Sure, it’s difficult but it’s, again, the best out of 5. You have to win that third game.”
Yes, they have to win Game 3. Either they win or they take a plane home and start the long offseason leading to spring training where many will return in the “best shape” of their lives.
So, how can this happen? How do the Giants avoid an early postseason exit?
Pitching. It was what they were known for. Walking through AT&T Park, reading tweets, even in the press box, the same comment was made: this is not the 2010 starting rotation.
Game 3 is one shining example. Righty Ryan Vogelsong, not of the 2010 team, will take the mound for San Francisco. Not Barry Zito. Not Tim Lincecum. Instead, the 35-year-old who inspired in 2011, but struggled through this season in August and into September will get the start.
“Obviously when things aren’t going the way you want to, you maybe try and do too much at times to get yourself back on track and sometimes that can go the other way,” Vogelsong said on Monday of his struggles. “I hate to say that bad luck or luck plays a part in this game, but I really felt like I ran into bad luck, too, at the same time. I was struggling a little bit and things weren’t going my way and it kinda magnified things.”
In his last three starts he seemed to pull it together, allowing only three runs in that span, earning the chance to help lead his team to a win.
“The last three starts I had, I felt pretty good. I’m pretty happy with how I feel going into tomorrow,” Vogelsong added.
Pitching has been the issue this season, but the offense has been able to counterbalance the difficulties enough to push them to the postseason. Now that they’re there, the bats haven’t been able to produce in the same way. In the regular season, the Giants scored the most runs on the road in the National League and they hope the stat will continue to ring true in the playoffs.
“We have played well on the road, so hopefully we can continue to do that and put some runs on the board for these guys, give our pitching staff the lead so maybe they can get comfortable and make some quality pitches,” Giants catcher Buster Posey said following Game 2.
San Francisco is on the brink of elimination, searching for that spark that will lead to three straight wins in the opposition’s ballpark. Looking at history, no team has been able to come from behind and win three-straight road games to win a five-game series. A sweep of the Reds, a team that has not been swept at home this season, looks to be unlikely. Unlikely, but not impossible.
If the team that showed up in the first two games of the series is the one we see in Game 3, the series is over. There have been some implausible events occurring, so maybe a few that will be positives for the Giants will happen in Cincinnati.
“We are alive, and more than anything you have to have the attitude “never say die” and you come out here, you play hard, and you see what happens,” said Bochy.
So, Game 3—momentum changer or postseason killer? We shall see what happens.
Claire Reclosado-Baclay is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco Giants. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.