In Game 1 of the National League Division Series matchup between the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds, the respective teams' aces will start the best-of-five series. Both Matt Cain and Johnny Cueto are having career years and have been the most consistent starters for their teams. While Cain had a perfect run through the Giants' 2010 World Series-winning postseason, Cueto also did well in his only 2010 playoff appearance, pitching five strong innings for a no-decision. Both pitchers' success will likely factor into which team starts their postseason run with a win.
This matchup also marks the 10-year anniversary of the Giants' 2002 World Series run that ultimately ended in a losing effort to the Los Angeles Angels (then called the Anaheim Angels). For current Reds and former Giants manager Dusty Baker, who is returning just weeks after suffering a mini-stroke and irregular heartbeat in September, this will be a unique postseason homecoming involving two of the teams he's managed.
For what can be viewed as a somewhat-surprising decision, Gregor Blanco will be receiving the start over Xavier Nady in left field. Valuing speed and defense over a more-powerful hitter with a better track record against Cueto (Nady is 5-for-8 with one home run against him in his career), Blanco will be situated as the team's No. 7 hitter for Game 1. As for the Giant hitters with the most experience against Cueto, Hunter Pence is a .343 hitter (12-for-35) with two homers and four doubles and Ryan Theriot owns a .302 average in 48 plate appearances against him.
The San Francisco Giants will host the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T Park located in San Francisco, CA on Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. PT. This will be the first game of a best-out-of-five game series.
Regular season series:
Reds lead regular season series 4-3.
Starting pitcher matchup:
Cincinnati: Johnny Cueto
2012 season: 19-9, 2.78 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 170 Ks
Career regular season numbers vs. Giants: 2-1, 1.93 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 22 K
Career regular season numbers at AT&T Park: 1-1, 1.38 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 11 Ks
San Francisco: Matt Cain
2012 season: 16-5, 2.79 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 193 Ks
Career regular season numbers vs. Reds: 4-5, 3.54 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 58 Ks
Career regular season numbers at AT&T Park: 47-38, 2.98 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 662 Ks
Where to watch and listen to the game:
The game can be nationally watched on TBS and SN and heard live on ESPN Radio.
Cincinnati: 2B Brandon Phillips, SS Zack Cozart, 1B Joey Votto, LF Ryan Ludwick, 3B Scott Rolen, RF Jay Bruce, CF Drew Stubbs, C Ryan Hanigan, P Johnny Cueto
Reds Saturday lineup, Cincinnati.com
Bochy pens Game 1 lineup for Giants, CSN Bay Area
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Austin Chang is a lifelong San Francisco Bay Area native, baseball fan, and supporter of the San Francisco Giants. Follow this Featured Contributor on Twitter @_austinchang.