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June 22, 2024

SF Giants on the verge of history

By FRANK SCHIFF | October 11, 2012

After dropping the first two home games in anemic fashion to the Cincinnati Reds, the San Francisco Giants appeared to be finished.

To win their divisional series playoff matchup they would have to sweep the Reds in their own home ballpark, a place the Reds went 50-31 in the regular season, the second best home record in the Major Leagues.

Dramaticaly, the Giants have managed to win the first two games in Cincinnati, evening the series at two games apiece and setting up what is sure to be an emotional and desperate game five showdown.

Before Tuesday’s game, Giants right fielder, Hunter Pence, motivated his teamates through a passionate pregame speech. Pence gathered everyone together in a football-like hudle and, as reported in his own words by Giants third base coach Tim Flannery, Pence preached: “Get in here, everyone get in here. Look into each other! look into each others eyes, I want one more day with you, it’s the most fun, the best team I have ever been on,” said Hunter Pence. “And no matter what happens we must not give in, we owe it to each other, play for each other, I need one more day with you guys, I need to see what Theriot (Ryan) will wear tomorrow, I want to play defense behind Vogelsong because he’s never been to the for each other not yourself, win each moment, win each inning, it’s all we have left!”

This kind of speech, which is traditionally uncommon in the game of baseball, clearly fired up the Giants dugout. Pence inspired them to play for one another and the name on the front of their jerseys, not the name on the back. On this night, the Giants were going to need as much inspiration as possible. Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey, just twelve days removed from a dazzling no-hitter against the Pittsburg Pirates, shut down the Giants through seven innings, allowing only one hit. After the game, Bailey would say he felt he had better ‘stuff’ in this game than in his no-hitter. Yet remarkably, he would not even get the win.

The ever-resilient Giants were able to muster out a single run against Latos. A hit batter, a walk and a pass ball put runners at second and third with one out. Angel Pagan came through for the Giants, hitting a sacrifice fly, notting the game at one.

Later in the game, Pence would prove his words on the field--throwing himself into the right field wall while making a critical catch to help starter Ryan Vogelsong exscape a pressure-packed inning.

The Giants only run proved crucial as the game would eventually go to extra-innings. In a match where there existed no room for error, the Reds sloppy defense handed the Giants the win, 2-1.

Third Baseman, Scott Rolen, bobbled an in-between-hop hit by Giants Shortstop Joaquin Arias allowing Buster Posey to score the winning run. The chopper was hit just slow enough that it forced Rolen to charge the ball, leaving him susceptible to a tough hop off the infield dirt. The third baseman recovered quickly but not fast enough to get the speedster Arais flying down the line.

Shockingly, even as the Reds literally had champaign on ice in the locker room, the Giants would live to see another day--after only managing three hits in the entire ball game.

The game three victory will be remembered as a turning point for the Giants this post-season. In a short, five game divisional series, a single game can shift momentum in a major and unlikely way.

In game four, the following day, the Giants’ bats exploded. The offensive outburst was capped by a mammoth two run home-run hit by Pablo Sandoval, en rout to a 8-3 spanking of the Reds. In fact, after getting dominated by the Reds pitching staff in the first three games of the series, the Giants scored twice as many runs in game four as they did in the first three games combined.

Tim Lincecum pitched four and a third innings out of the bullpen allowing only one run on two hits with six strikeouts to get the win.

Often overlooked in this series is Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s uncanny ability to pull all the strings at all the right times. He yanked starter Ryan Vogelsong after only five innings to get left-handed relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt the matchup he wanted against the Reds predominately left-handed power hitters. Bochy then went with Santiago Cassilla and Javier Lopez to combine to pitch the eighth, while Sergio Romo pitched flawlessly in the ninth and tenth innings. In total, the bullpen threw five innings and allowed one hit.

The following day, Bochy surprised everyone by inserting rookie catcher Hector Sanchez behind the plate and moving Buster Posey to first base. Sanchez, in his first ever post-season game, would reach base three of four times and prove a key spark-plug for a Giants lineup which hit three home-runs in the game.

On October 11th, at one PM, the two teams will face off in a winner move on, loser go home, rubber-

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