The Giants have historically struggled in Cincinnatti, which is what made the 2012 NLDS wins there that much more special – down 0 – 2 the Giants came back and won three in a row in Cincy to win it on the way to their second SF World Series Championship. That said, the Reds started this season playing very poorly and, though they have played much better in recent weeks, when the Giants arrived in town Cincy was statistically the worst team in baseball (14-30).
The Giants lost the first two games of the series as their bats went silent again. They also seemed generally out of sorts from the top down. Both games seemed winnable. They were within reach, but the Giants couldn’t muster the big hit. They left more than a dozen stranded.
In Sunday’s game the trend continued, as Reds starter Tyler Mahle held the Giants hitless for six innings. But the Giants played much better defense today. Wilmer Flores had an unassisted double play at first. Longo made an incredible leap to stab a Tyler Stephenson line drive out of the air in the fifth. Alex Cobb was dealing. The guys looked crisp. In the top of the seventh, Thairo Estrada finally broke the seal with a double that sent Mahle off with a 2 – 0 lead. The game turned into a bullpen contest and the Giants got to see Hunter Strickland again, who closed out the top of the seventh with a K.
There were some lucky breaks and none was bigger than the reviewed play at the plate in the bottom of the seventh. Evan Longoria made his second great stab of the game, at a hard hit grounder that bounced high between second and third, but this time Kyle Farmer was at third and racing for home on contact.
Longoria brilliantly snatched the blazing one-hopper by Albert Almora, Jr. and reversed its trajectory in milliseconds. Longo fired the ball to Joey Bart, who caught it, but then lazily turned to the oncoming runner. It was bad. Bart showed no urgency or physical will to protect the plate. He merely collected the ball from Longo and turned to the third base line. It should have been an easy tag out, but it was questionable.
Farmer was called out and the Reds immediately reviewed. The replay looked to me and everybody in Cincy like he was clearly safe. Bart was way too nonchalant on the tag. It is super frustrating in super slo-mo. But somehow, the referees in New York decided it was inconclusive evidence and the Giants dodged a bullet. Kap needs to get on Bart for that one.
The Giants broke it open with some deft management and competent batting. They batted through the order in the eighth and scored six runs with two outs. Joc Pederson had a hit and an RBI. Evan Longoria blasted a three run homer. Luis Gonzalez had a two-run scoring double. It was yet another of the explosive innings the Giants have shown us this year. Those are exciting and within the game plan: hang around, keep it close and beat the opposing ‘pen.
Camilo Doval struggled to get the save – giving up a two-run homer to Almora, Jr. – but he settled down and got the job done. Giants 6, Reds 4.
whew. crazy weekend. It’s off to Philadelphia.