What Ifs Abound in Game 3


At the time it only seemed like a minor annoyance.  With no outs and the best hitter on the planet on deck, Brandon Phillips took a free pass into second and turned it into an out at third.  A walk and two singles later, the Reds had again scored first, and everyone at GABP had a good feeling about Game 3.  Yeah, it could have been two runs, but it was the first inning. Plenty of baseball to go.

Plenty turned out to be not quite enough.

Oct 9, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey (34) pitches in the inning against the San Francisco Giants during game three of the 2012 NLDS at Great American Ball Park. (Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE)

Homer Bailey did his part, throwing 7 shutout innings and allowing one measly hit.  Unfortunately, a brief lapse in concentration led to a hit batsman and a walk to start the third inning.  What made this turn of events particularly sour was that it occurred against the 7th and 8th hitters in the order.  A bunt by the pitcher and a sac fly later, and the Giants had tied the game.

That’s when the September Reds decided to show up.  The only hit they managed the rest of the way was a Scott Rolen infield single.  They were put away in order five of the final eight innings.

Luckily, as was also the case in September, the pitching was up to the task.  Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman easily disposed of the Giants in the 8th and 9th innings.  Then in the 10th, Dusty decided to bring in Jonathan Broxton.  I have no issue with Broxton (not yet at least), but when the dominant, non-wild version of Chapman shows up in the 9th, and neither team is showing an inclination to score, why not let Chapman pitch another?  I saw at least one person point out that it possibly kept him fresh for tomorrow.  Except, why play for tomorrow when you can still win today!

Honestly, it wasn’t the worst of offenses, and Broxton has been solid for the Reds.  Unfortunately, he gave up a couple of groundball singles to lead off the inning.  A tad unlucky, it seems.  He then remembered how he’s capable of pitching and blew away the next two Giants hitters.  Two outs, and getting out of the inning unscathed now seems like a legitimate possibility.

Oct 9, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds third baseman Scott Rolen (27) bobbles a ball hit by the San Francisco Giants third baseman Joaquin Arias (not pictured) during the tenth inning in game three of the 2012 NLDS at Great American Ballpark. The Giants defeated the Reds 2-1 in ten innings. (Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE)

And then, two of the unlikeliest of events take place.  First, the usually reliable Ryan Hanigan lets a Broxton fastball run in on him and get to the backstop.  The runners advance.  Then, a weak chopper to third base turns into a tough play when Rolen has to play the ball on an awkward bounce, causing a momentary bobble.  That was enough for the speedy Joaquin Arias to beat the throw to first and allow Buster Posey, who had advanced to third on the passed ball, to score.

Sergio Romo put down the Reds in order in the bottom half the the inning to secure the win.  Included in the frame were two rather uninspired at bats from Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart.  Phillips appeared to be bothered at the plate after he singled to lead off the game and then ran into the first out at third.  The star of the series thus far was hitless in his final four at bats, including two ugly strikeouts.

Cozart, bless his heart, has had a rough time at the plate late in the year.  His OPS since the start of September has been well below .600.

Last night I underscored the notion that a lot can happen in a five game series.  So far, most of those things had been good for the Reds.  Tonight, most of them were bad.  It happens.  Tomorrow, a whole new set of things will happen.  There is uncertainty in the Reds pitching situation.  But you know what, a similar scenario occurred on Saturday after 8 pitches and everything turned out fine.  The Reds have the same team everyone was glowing about after Sunday’s win.

There’s not a whole lot to do but wait for tomorrow.

Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronjlehr