It was their first time meeting in the playoffs. Both teams wanted nothing more than to get the first game behind them. In a much anticipated match-up, game one of the National League Division series did not disappoint.
The San Francisco Giants 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds was not the way they began the postseason two years ago. In fact, they won their first three games. However, that doesn't mean their out, they just have more work to do.
"Sure, you hate to lose the opener, and we're at home," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "But we have a lot of baseball left. These guys have been resilient all year."
First baseman Brandon Belt caught Zach Cozart's fly ball while doing a forward flip over the fence in the first frame. That amazing catch got the sellout crowd on their feet but that didn't last too long.
Brandon Phillips two-run homer in the third frame gave the Reds a 2-0 lead. Matt Cain then hit the next batter and walked Joey Votto with one out in the third. Ryan Ludwick grounded into a double play to end the inning and saved Cain from what would've been a disaster.
The obvious struggles for Matt got worse when Jay Bruce leadoff the fourth with a solo home run to extend their lead to 3-0. Cain's night ended after five innings, allowing five hits, three runs (all earned), one walk, one hit batter and four strike outs.
"I made some bad pitches and got these guys in the hole, so that was my fault," said Matt. "These guys were working the entire game until the very end, they were trying to get somethings done."
Buster Posey brought life back into the sellout crowd when he blasted a solo home run to left field in the sixth. The first run scored of the night for San Francisco. But they were stifled by Cincinnati's defense until the ninth when they rallied to get back into the ball game.
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman loaded the bases and a wild pitch brought in their final run. An opportunity where the Giants could have controlled the game lost their way when Pablo Sandoval popped out to second and Posey struck out to end the game.
"For sure, it was a big opportunity for us," Gregor Blanco said. "But we still knew that they have a great pitchers and a great bullpen."
A huge loss at the start of the game for Cincinnati, became inspiration to overcome their odds. After striking out the first batter Angel Pagan, Johnny Cueto grimaced in pain before motioning that he could not go on. The Red's medical staff and manager Dusty Baker ran onto the field to comfort him. He threw eight pitches and six strike outs in 1 1/3 innings and was later diagnosed with back spasms.
"Cueto said he felt some cramping in the bullpen before the game," Baker said. "We had no idea it would be that bad once he got on the mound. You never want to see a guy hurting and you say, 'Oh no, what can happen again,' kind of. But then you think about Joey Votto, this is a team that will pick each other up and go on."
San Francisco tried but could not get out of the hole. They had a chance to get on the board first when Sam LeCure loaded the bases in the second with two outs before Cain flew out to right fielder Jay Bruce to end the inning and leaving three runners stranded.
The timing and decision making for the Giants was low. Top of the eighth, Ludwick grounded into a double play but second baseman Mark Scutaro missed the opportunity to tag Phillips for the out as he fell to the ground purposely and was safe at second.
Although, no runs were scored on the play, Brandon sparked some energy for them to score two more runs in the ninth. He had three hits and three RBI's for a big night to take game one of the best-of-five series.
"You never want to give the team an opportunity for the double play," Phillips said. "He didn't tag me and that left the inning open. We didn't score but that did give us some energy in the next inning."