What's the worst possible thing that can happen after your team loses a playoff team when your opponent's ace exits the game after just eight pitches? Well, you go out the next night and shut out, picking up just two hits. That's what happened on Sunday, as the Reds smashed the Giants 9-0 to take a 2-0 lead in their series.
A night after six Reds pitchers held the Giants to two runs, Bronson Arroyo came out like a man on a mission, throwing 4 2/3 perfect innings before finishing his night with seven shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk, striking out four Giants hitters over the course of his outing. The Giants would put three runners on in the final two innings against the Reds bullpen, but the game was already more than decided at that point.
As for the Reds offense…well, they beat the tar out of the ball. Their scoring started in the second against San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner, who ended up pitching just 4 1/3 innings and allowing four runs. The first run came courtesy of a Ryan Ludwick solo homer, giving the Reds a lead they wouldn't relinquish all evening. In the fourth, Cincinnati tacked on three more after back to back singles by Scott Rolen and Ryan Hanigan with runners on. After Bumgarner left the game, the Reds offense went into hibernation into the eighth, with Jose Mijares starting the inning on the hill. After a single by Joey Votto and a walk to Ludwick, Mijares allowed a two-run double to Jay Bruce, making it 6-0 and ending his brief appearance. Santiago Casilla got Scott Rolen to fly out, and was replaced by Guillermo Mota, who dumped gasoline on the flames. Mota allowed another RBI single to Hanigan to make it 7-0, then allowed an RBI triple to Drew Stubbs, making it an 8-0 game. After he struck out Arroyo, Mota gave up a double to Brandon Phillips to increase the Reds' lead to 9-0 before getting out of the inning.
Of course, Giants manager Bruce Bochy used his closer Casilla for just one out in the eighth, and didn't put Sergio Romo in until the ninth, when the game was decided. Makes perfect sense, right? It's also worth noting that Tim Lincecum, who lost his spot in the rotation to Barry Zito for this series, threw two innings of scoreless relief for the Giants in this game. Could it be a hint at a role change for the 2013 season?
The Reds pounded Giants pitching for 13 hits in tonight's game, including five extra base hits. They went 5/11 with runners in scoring position, and only stranded five runners, which is pretty amazing considering how many men they put on base. This was an all-around complete game from the Reds, and the wind has probably been completely taken from behind the Giants' sails.
Game three, which could be the clincher for the Reds, will take place on Tuesday in Cincinnati at 5:37 PM. Ryan Vogelsong will start for the Giants and look to extend their season for one more game, while Homer Bailey starts for the Reds and looks to drive the dagger home on San Francisco's season.