The San Francisco Giants face the Cincinnati Reds in Game Three of their National League division series today at the Great American Ballpark in the Queen City of the Ohio. Game time is slated for 5:30 PM EDT.
It's do-or-die time for the Giants, who face elimination in the series after Sunday night's 9-0 debacle at AT&T Park. Ryan Vogelsong, who knows a thing or two about do-or-die, elimination, debacles, and other seemingly insurmountable obstacles, will start for the Giants against the Reds' Homer Bailey. Should the Giants live to fight another day, Barry Zito has already been tabbed to start a fourth game, with Matt Cain and the entire pitching staff waiting on the dim chance of a fifth.
Little need be said about Game Two, in which the Giants managed two hits off Cincy's Bronson Arroyo and two relievers, while surrendering hits aplenty to his teammates. Madison Bumgarner took the loss, although things didn't get ugly until after he departed in the fifth. "Bum" gave up a solo homer to Ryan Ludwick in the second, which elicited an audible here-we-go-again groan from the attending collective. In the fourth, he allowed four straight singles, which, after a unsuccessful throw to the plate that should have been cut off, resulted in three runs, capped by catcher Ryan Hanigan's two-run opposite-field poke. That was enough, really, given the way the Giants were-- or, more accurately, weren't-- hitting. Arroyo, who looks vaguely like actor Jeff Daniels or perhaps guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen, was consistently ahead of the hitters all game, changing speeds and deliveries and, surprisingly, inducing nine groundouts despite his rep as a fly-ball pitcher. He joins Danny Cox, Kevin Gross, Steve Trachsel, Bobby Jones, and John Lackey as unheralded pitchers who, in a key game, have put the Giants to sleep. Like we needed a flippin' reminder or something. The lone bright moment was two innings of sharp, scoreless relief by Tim Lincecum, who after a season of struggle clearly had something to prove, and just as clearly proved it. It's a pity he didn't finish the game (although 4-0 counts just as much a loss as does 9-0), but Bruce Bochy can't be blamed for wanting to keep him in reserve for today, tomorrow, or whatever may come.
A change of scene can only help. The Giants led the league, as we've reiterated herein ad nauseum, in runs scored on the road. The GABP is a well-known hitters' haven. If Vogelsong can keep his own pitches in the park, this resilient ballclub has one more chance to do what it's done all year and keep us occupied for at least one more day.