The San Francisco Giants compiled just three hits, struck out 16 times, and looked mighty uncomfortable at the plate (again), yet they somehow managed to pull out a victory over the Cincinnati Reds in extra innings. It was Joaquin Arias' routine grounder to third base that Scott Rolen fumbled and couldn't gun down the speedy Arias, allowing Buster Posey to score what would be the game-winning run in the top of the 10th inning.
First off, I'd like to personally thank Scott Rolen (and Ryan Vogelsong/Giants' bullpen) for keeping us in the NLDS. Now it's time to do some damage. (I sure hope I don't eat those words.)
If the Giants are going to get things going today (October 10) and force a Game 5 against the Reds, then there are a few things that have to be done in order for the Giants to have that opportunity. So after some careful observation of the first three games of the 2012 NLDS between the Giants and Reds, here are my keys to a Game 4 victory for the Giants:
Stay Hot Barry Zito
Oh how things have changed for Barry Zito. In 2010, when the Giants won their first World Series in San Francisco, Zito spent the postseason looking on from the bench. His regular season consisted of a 9-14 record and a 4.15 ERA. Oddly enough, Zito posted a 4.15 ERA in 2012 but instead finished with a 15-8 record, his best season since earning a 16-10 record in 2006 -- his last season with the Oakland Athletics (who also face elimination in a Game 4 today, October 10, in the ALDS). All things considered Zito is riding the hot streak he has been searching for since joining the Giants. In the month of September (and one start in October) he was 5-0 in six starts with a 3.03 ERA. Time for Zito to keep the fire burning and give the Giants a quality start they can build a lead with. If Zito does that, the Giants can win Game 4.
More Arias Please
As stated, it was Arias' routine grounder and Rolen's error that eventually would give the Giants a Game 3 win, but if the Giants want to continue to win, Arias needs to get the start at shortstop. There is something about him that I prefer over Brandon Crawford. Crawford has hit better this season than in 2011, but Arias seems to be more clutch -- and not just at the plate. I feel as if Arias has been better in the field as well committing just five errors in 404 innings while Crawford has committed 18 in 1101 innings. Now I know there is a disparity in the number of innings, but Crawford as made far too many errors for a fielder of his caliber. It's time to start Arias for a change of pace.
Shakeup the Lineup
Part of reasoning for starting Arias is the fact that the Giants' lineup needs to be shook up. The first three games of the NLDS the Giants have used the exact same lineup in the exact same batting order. For whatever reason, Bochy has chosen to stay the course with this lineup -- probably because it got the Giants to where they wanted to be during their crucial stretch of September -- and now, since this lineup was employed for the Game 3 win, I expect to see it on the field again for Game 4. However, that shouldn't be the case. I haven't figured out just how, but Bochy needs to do some kind of flip-flopping with the lineup to give Reds' pitchers a new look.
Pray to Jobu
If nothing else works, just do what Pedro Cerrano in "Major League" did, pray to Jobu so you can accumulate some hits and score some runs. The table needs to be set for the meat of the order. Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro need to get back to getting on base so Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Hunter Pence can hit with runners on base. Otherwise, I'm afraid Jobu will be very angry.
Food for thought: Do the Giants get things done against the Reds in Game 4? If not, why do you think the Reds will win?
David is co-founder of wrapupp sports blog where fresh content is posted daily and present sports blogs and sports opinions -- all with a West Coast bias. Growing up in the Bay Area, David is a huge supporter of all the local sports teams; the Giants, Athletics, Warriors, Sharks, 49ers, and Raiders. His one fault, admittedly, as many of his friends and family would say, is his love for the Los Angeles Lakers. Growing up, Magic Johnson was his favorite basketball player and he fell in love with the team. He chalks it up to, "Not knowing any better". Now his love for sports has turned just as academic as it is intuitive and he follows most all sports all over the nation.
You can follow David on Twitter: @officialwrapupp
Baseball-Reference. Brandon Crawford Stats. MLB 2012.
Baseball-Reference. Joaquin Arias Stats. MLB 2012.
Baseball-Reference. Barry Zito Stats. MLB 2012.
SFGiants.com. NLDS Game 3 Recap. MLB 2012.
More From David Mehrwein and the Yahoo! Contributor Network:
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- Joaquin Arias
- Barry Zito
- Buster Posey
- Scott Rolen