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Reds Live Up To Their Billing: Pitching, Defense and Home Runs

Updated on October 7, 2012

Reds Take 1-0 NLDS Lead

by Robb Hoff

October 6, 2012

When Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto came up obviously hurt with one out in the first inning, Reds Country swallowed its collective tongue.

This was not good, and the playoff win drought that has lasted since this day October 6 in 1995 -- 17 long years -- looked like it might not only last longer but mark the beginning of the end of a short series with the Reds on the losing end.

But not so fast.

Enter Sam LeCure in a hurry. After a 1-2/3-inning gutty performance, exit LeCure with the lead, thanks to a two-run blast by Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who had just one homer in his last 16 starts.

Then enter Reds Number Two starter Mat Latos with a 2-0 lead that grew to 3-0 after a solo bomb by slugger Jay Bruce, who had just one homer in his last 20 starts.

Latos pitched in and out of trouble for four innings, giving up just a solo homer to Giants catcher Buster Posey. The sight of Latos pitching in AT&T Park was a welcomed one even under the circumstances because Latos sported a career 1.62 earned run average against the Giants at AT&T Park in 43 regular season innings.

Pitching and timely home runs aside, the real catalyst for the Reds Game One playoff win was defense, which has proven to be the catalyst for many of the Reds 97 regular season wins this year.

There were a couple bad throws in this game by Reds infielders, but there were some spectacular run-saving plays in the field for the Reds in this one, as well.

Center-fielder Drew Stubbs once again demonstrated his tremendous value in center by cutting off a gap shot that would've produced a run if any other Reds player is in center field instead of Stubbs.

And Stubbs wasn't alone. A rushed, errant through by Reds third baseman Scott Rolen on a Giants bunt flew by first baseman Joey Votto, but second baseman Phillips backing up the play laid out at full speed to snare the wild throw on a bounce to prevent the Giants runner from likely advancing to third.

And in left field, Ryan Ludwick was an unlikely defensive hero, diving fully extended to save a double or worse and also making a quick enough adjustment on a ball over his head to rob the Giants of another extra-base hit.

The Reds pitchers not only benefited from stellar defense but also the spacious environs of AT&T Park, which kept a couple Giants fly balls in the park that would've been home runs at the Reds Great American Ball Park

After Latos finished his four-inning stint, the Reds trotted out their exceptional back end of the bullpen -- Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and of course The Cuban Missile -- Aroldis Chapman, who made the game much more interesting at the end than it should have been.

Now, the Reds have to hope that Cueto's back spasms subside quickly enough for him to return for a start in this series.....and beyond.

In any event with all things considered, the Reds are off too a good start in the divisional series with a playoff win that has been a long time coming for Reds Country.



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