The Cincinnati Reds now join the San Francisco Giants as a team in a do-or-die situation. In Game 4 of this series, the Giants got great production from throughout their lineup and got a necessary boost out of the bullpen from Tim Lincecum after Barry Zito left the game after only pitching 2.2 innings. Mike Leake, who was added to the roster due to Johnny Cueto's injury, struggled to keep Cincinnati in the game early on, as he allowed a leadoff home run to Angel Pagan in the first inning and a two-run homer to Gregor Blanco in the second inning.
With both teams now in a must-win mindset, the Giants will send Game 1 starter Matt Cain to the mound. Leaving his start early after allowing two costly home runs to Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce, Cain is ready to take this shot at redemption and lead the Giants to an unprecedented third straight road playoff win in Cincinnati. With this year being the first and only year where the NLDS and ALDS are in a two-three format, with the lower-seeded team getting the first two games at home and the final three games (if necessary) being played at the higher-seeded team's home ballpark, San Francisco could also be the first National League team to comeback from a 0-2 deficit in postseason play.
As for the Reds, they'll use Mat Latos, who pitched a large part of Game 1 after Cueto left the game. Latos will be on full rest and will try to send the Reds to the NLCS for the first time since 1995. While the playoffs are a completely different story, one tidbit on Cincinnati's side is that the team never lost three in a row at Great American Ball Park in the regular season.
Cincinnati's fortunes during postseason play could change all of that depending on how well the Giants' hitting and pitching perform in this all-important Game 5.
The San Francisco Giants will visit the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park located in Cincinnati, OH on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. PT. This will be the fifth game of a best-out-of-five game series.
Series tied 2-2.
Starting pitcher matchup:
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, 1334 WHIP, 58 Ks
Career regular season numbers at Great American Ball Park: 2-2, 3.44 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 24 Ks
Cincinnati: Mat Latos
2012 season: 14-4, 3.48 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 185 Ks
Career regular season numbers vs. Giants: 4-3, 2.19 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 55 K
Career regular season numbers at Great American Ball Park: 9-3, 3.05 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 107 Ks
Where to watch and listen to the game:
The game can be nationally watched on TBS and SN-1 and heard live on ESPN Radio.
Key contributors of Game 4:
Angel Pagan - 2-for-3, one home run, two RBIs, two runs scored, two walks
Pablo Sandoval - 3-for-4, one home run, three RBIs, one run scored
Gregor Blanco - 1-for-2, two-run home run in second inning
Joaquin Arias - 2-for-3, two runs scored
Tim Lincecum - 4.1 innings pitched, one run allowed, two hits, six strikeouts
Ryan Ludwick - 1-for-4, solo home run in third inning
Sam LeCure - 1.2 innings pitched, one hit allowed, three strikeouts
More from this contributor:
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.