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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Looking for Signs of Hope After Game 1 Loss

SFGiantsGuy was at Game 1 last night and will be heading out to Game 2 in a few hours. With that being said, here was my takeaway from last night's loss:

Got into AT&T about 6pm. Great vibe. Tons of people. Expected the Blue Angels to do the fly over but I guess the Giants couldn't pony up for that. Alex Smith threw out the first pitch. Not sure if anyone saw this but when they announced the rosters Freddy Sanchez was announced (and was in uniform). So was Brian Wilson for that matter but at least Wilson played a game this year. Was really kinda awkward seeing Freddy back in uniform and standing with the team prior to the game.

Right away the strike zone seemed "off" and then I heard Phil Cuzzi was behind the dish and I realized the game was in for a frustrating night at home plate. I noticed Cueto's injury IMMEDIATELY when it happened. And my first thought was "the Giants just caught a massive break". Getting into the Cincy pen early was supposed to be a huge advantage. But no sooner had Sam LeCure got out of the inning that Matt Cain coughs up a 2 run homer to Brandon Phillips on an 0-2 pitch. For me, that was the ball game. Not at the time, still thought the Giants could rally for 2 runs but I was very frustrated Cain gave up a tater on an 0-2 count. One of my biggest pet peeves in baseball is giving up a hit in strong pitching counts. Well, this wasn't just a hit, it was a 2 run bomb. That is inexcusable. In an 0-2 count, that third pitch has no business being anywhere close to the zone. Cain would frustrate me further when he did the same thing to Jay Bruce on a 1-2 count. My takeaways on Cain? He struggled against the Reds this year (2 starts, 5 runs given up in each of them - one at AT&T and one in Cincy). There was no way Matt Cain was NOT going to start Game 1 but he doesn't match up well with the Reds as they are a good fastball hitting team. I had no problem with Bochy's quick hook. When I look at the Reds line-up, there's 3 guys you just can't let beat you. Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, and Joey Votto. Cain allowed 2 of those guys to beat him. The Giants must pitch those guys carefully moving forward.

It just was not the Giants night. I thought when Cueto got injured the Giants were feeling some magic. But that quickly shifted. No one was hitting the ball for awhile and then, when they did make solid contact, as everyone noted here, those rockets were caught. In the mid to late innings they did have some opportunities and some hard hit balls but nada. You could argue that Pence would have had two homers last night in a different yard. That's a positive take away, Pence hit the ball hard just for outs. To me, Pence is a big key to the series as I see Posey getting walked more often. The Blanco strikeout was annoying as I don't think he even swung the bat once but again, Cuzzi sucks. I don't think this is the end all. Let's face it, even though the Giants home and road record is nearly identical they play better on the road offensively. 

Here are some things that give me reason for optimism as the Giants head into Game 2 of the NLDS. 

1) In 2010, they left AT&T 1-1. Tonight's game is a must win no doubt. But if they CAN win it, I'll feel confident going into Cincy. 

2) Latos was used tonight which means he'll be unavailable for Game 3. I am not sure what Cueto's situation is but it means it'll either be Cueto or Homer Bailey in Game 3. I am hoping it'll be Bailey. 

3) Arroyo is on the mound tonight. Arroyo has had a nice year but he doesn't scare me. The Giants offense should be able to do more against him tonight than they did against the parade of Reds pitchers last night. 

4) The Giants made Aroldis Chapman work. Damn near 30 pitches.

5) The Reds Game 2 starter Bronson Arroyo has a terrible track record in the playoffs (career 6.04 ERA) and at AT&T (0-4. 4.11).  

6) Everything (minus the Cueto injury) went the Reds way last night. Baseball balances out. I don't think they'll be quite as lucky tonight. 

The Reds are a very good team.  I wanted to play the Nationals in the LDS because if we were going to play the Reds, I wanted to face them in a 7 game series. Unfortunately, we're getting them in the 5 game series. So we'll just have to win tonight and roll the dice in Cincy. The Reds are good but the Giants are good too. We did not beat ourselves last night, the Reds beat us. I'd prefer it that way than kicking the ball around. Cain made two mistake pitches that got crushed and Casilla helped ice the victory for the Reds with the wild pitches (oops, I mean passed balls) but give credit to the Reds. They played a solid game and won. We need to come right back at them tonight and counter.

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