Place: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
Riding a wave of momentum, the San Francisco Giants look to make history in the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds. If the Giants can win their third straight game, they’ll be the first NL team to ever come back from an 0-2 deficit in the Division Series to win.
NL teams are 0-21 since the Division Series was added in 1995, and overall 38 of the 42 teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in the Division Series have advanced. Despite the odds, the Giants have to feel good about their chances after tying the series Wednesday with an impressive 8-3 win. The Reds were forced to start Mike Leake in Game 4, but they’ll have 14-game winner Mat Latos pitching on four days’ rest in Game 5.
After batting .126 as a team in the first three games of the series, the Giants’ offense came to life in Game 4 with 11 hits and three home runs. The top three hitters in the Giants lineup – Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval – combined to go 6-for-11 with three doubles, two home runs, and five RBIs after going 4-for-37 (.108) in the first three games.
While the Reds have left 17 runners on base in their last two games, Giants manager Bruce Bochy has pushed all the right buttons and was able to rest relievers Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt on Wednesday. The Reds did not lose three consecutive home games at any point during the regular season, and the Giants have not swept a three-game series in Cincinnati since 1999.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Mat Latos (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Giants RH Matt Cain (0-1, 5.40)
Latos threw 57 pitches over four innings in relief in Game 1 and went 7-1 with a 2.46 ERA over his last 14 regular-season starts. Pablo Sandoval is 6-for-29 (.207) against Latos, who is 4-3 with a 2.19 ERA in 11 career starts against the Giants, including 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in two starts this season. Latos hasn’t recorded a loss in eight outings and has given up one run or less in his past four appearances.
Cain’s scoreless inning streak to begin his postseason career ended at 23 1/3 innings in Game 1, when he allowed three runs over five innings. Cain took two of his five losses this season against the Reds, allowing eight earned runs in 13 innings, including four home runs.
Ryan Ludwick is 8-for-22 (.364) with three home runs against Cain, who gave up homers to Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce in the series opener.
1. Reds starter Johnny Cueto was placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain on Wednesday, and he won’t be eligible to return unless the Reds reach the World Series.
2. The Giants are seeking to become the first major league team to overcome an 0-2 deficit in a five-game postseason series by winning three consecutive games on the road.
3. Beginning with Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, Reds manager Dusty Baker’s teams are 1-8 when playing with a chance to clinch a postseason series.