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Game 2 NLDS, Reds 9, Giants 0: Like a Kitten Clinging To a Rope

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It will now take something just short of a miracle. The Giants are down two games to none and heading to Cincinnati, where the toy ballpark eats up good pitchers let alone those who have hit an October slump. I think the latter is a fair description of the Giant staff right now. Timing: You either have it or you don't. There's probably an inspirational poster out there with those words, illustrated with a kitten clinging to a rope

Let me summarize the series for you so far: Game 1, Reds catch everything hard hit, Matt Cain not quite himself, Reds win 5-2. Game 2, MadBum has one bad inning, Bronson Arroyo throws everything exactly where he wants it to go, most of it at 83 MPH, and the Giants pick a very bad night to stop sniffing glue, and by glue I mean base hits. Plus Bochy, faced with a four-run deficit and only a couple innings left, opts for the old Mijares/Mota soft-shoe (ladies and germs, just look at them balls fly all over the yard!) instead of acting like do-or-die and getting his front-liners Lopez, Affeldt and Romo ready. Is it asking too much to have Guillermo Mota left off the NLCS roster, y'know, just in case? 

If the game had stayed 4-0 going into the final innings, perhaps Dusty would have been persuaded to get Chapman up again -- a moral victory right there -- and perhaps even use him. And that might have made a difference in Game 3, or 4, or (inshallah) Game 5. 

Funny how two games can define an entire season. Pro Lefty Tip: Don't let them. Whatever happens Tuesday under the guidance of Reverend Vogelsong, remember that this is a very good, if somewhat flawed, team. The Reds? You guessed it. Very good, if somewhat flawed. The Yankees? Orioles? Braves? Nationals? Etc. 

The Giants could come back and sweep the next three in Cincy, in which case we'll be talking about resiliency, clutchiness, moxie, schmoxie, and Brandon Belt's 9th inning come-from-behind marvelously awkward Game 5 grand slam. Or they could lose by a run Tuesday and everyone will suddenly have a lot less to do with their days until next March or April. 

Here's the exercise for tonight, and for the off-day Monday: Do you think two playoff losses scrape away self-delusion and reveal the truth, in which case the Giants really need to get top-of-the-order hitters who can get shit done in the playoffs, not to mention starting pitchers who don't spit the bit when handed great responsibility? Or do you think the long haul of 162 games, and beyond, is much more revealing? 

The series isn't over, but we're talking like it is. For that, I apologize. Final thought of the evening: Dear Ryan Vogelsong, enjoy every moment of your first career post-season appearance. You deserve it. Savor it. And please give the Giants a fighting chance to win. 

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Header photo courtesy of Flickr user eviltomthai under a Creative Commons license.