Giants complete improbable NLDS comeback
OCT 11, 2012 6:11p ET
CINCINNATI — It depends upon one's point of view when it comes to explaining what happened in the San Francisco Giants-Cincinnati Reds National League Division Series, a bizarre series of events that defies believability.
From the Giants' viewpoint, it was an incredible, unbelievable, unfathomable return from the living dead to win the series, three games to two, when everybody thought a game or two in Cincinnati was a mere formality for the Reds to wrap it up in a tidy bow.
Instead of playing the wounded foil, the Giants became the first National League team to come from a two games to none deficit to win a five-game series. And they became only the second major-league team to lose the first two at home and battle back to win it.
From the Reds' viewpoint, it was a crushing, unimaginable, ill-conceived collapse, the first NL team to lose a five-game series after winning the first two and only the second major-league team to win the first two on the road and lose the series.
The end came on a sunny but chilly Thursday afternoon in Great American Ball Park, a 6-4 Giants victory that was anchored by a fifth-inning grand slam by catcher Buster Posey off Mat Latos. Posey's grand slam was only the second postseason grand slam in San Francisco history (Will Clark).
After losing the first two games by 5-2 and 9-0 in their own ATT Park, the Giants took the Reds apart in their home venue by 2-1 in 10 innings, 8-3 and 6-4.
The Giants broke a 0-0 tie in the fifth with a six-run explosion for the benefit of starter Matt Cain, punctuated by Posey's 434-foot bases-loaded blast into the left-field upper deck and into the heart of the Reds.
But Cain wasn't up to protecting it and the Reds chipped back with two in the bottom of the fifth and one in the sixth, forcing Giants manager Bruce Bochy to go to his bullpen to pin it down.
The Reds put the tying run at the plate in each of the last four innings, but were able to score only one more run. It ended with veteran Scott Rolen, probably swinging a bat for the last time in his major-league career, striking out against Sergio Romo with the tying runs on base.
"It was torture to have to come in here down two games to none but what happened here, well, I couldn't be prouder of a bunch of guys," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. "To come in here and do what we did is quite a task and it is going against all odds and we found a way to get it done."
Reds manager Dusty Baker bemoaned his team's inability to produce the magic hit in the late innings to turn it around and said, "We had the tying runs at the plate in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth and just couldn't get that big hit. They got the big hits in the fifth, all the runs they scored."
Latos admitted he lost his focus in the fifth when he disagreed with some of plate umpire Tom Hallion's balls-and-strikes calls.
He thought he had strike three on the first batter, Gregor Blanco, but it was called a ball and Blanco then singled. He thought he had strike three twice on Brandon Crawford but they were called balls. Crawford then tripled for a 1-0 lead.
A second run scored on shortstop Zack Cozart's error, Latos walked Mark Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval singled to fill the bases for Posey. He promptly emptied them.
"I let a couple of things get to me that shouldn't have," said Latos. "Then I made a mistake to Posey and he hit a grand slam. Most importantly, I let down the team, the front office and the fans. I let things get to me and 100 per cent this game is on me and I messed up. There were a couple of calls that could have gone either way and went the other way."
Posey didn't let down his team or the Giants fans or the San Francisco front office with his massive swing that sent the Giants into the National League Championship Series.
"I was trying to make sure I got the run in from third base and I chased a 2-and-1 pitch," said Posey. "I told myself to see the ball and I was able to get a pitch in the zone, got the barrel on it and good things happened."
And bad things for the Reds.
Two of Cincinnati's four runs were driven in by left fielder Ryan Ludwick with a leadoff home run in the sixth and a one-out single in the ninth.
"That one pitch to Buster broke open the game," said Ludwick. "The disappointment? Huge. From spring training I said this team was capable of winning it all. We went through a lot of adversity and overcame it and that's why I thought this season was supposed to end. I just thought it was written in the book that we were going to go on to the next round today."
But Posey made certain the final chapter to the book, "The 2012 Cincinnati Reds," did not have a happy ending.