10/03/12 8:14 PM ET
As No. 2 seed, Reds ready for Giants in NLDS
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
It will be the Giants, with Game 1 of the best-of-five series beginning on TBS at 9:37 p.m. ET on Saturday at AT&T Park in San Francisco. Although the Reds were the first team to clinch a playoff spot and a division flag, they've waited 11 more days for the bracket to be settled.
"We finally know where we are going," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We finally know who we're playing against and we finally know who we're scouting against. I'm excited about that."
The Nationals claimed the top seed by winning their game over the Phillies earlier Wednesday afternoon to end with a 98-64 record. By virtue of owning the season series over the Reds, Washington owned the tiebreaker no matter what Cincinnati did vs. the Cardinals on Wednesday night.
The Reds, who will have the second seed and still own home-field advantage over the Giants in a 2-3 playoff format, never stated any preference publicly about who they wanted to face in the NLDS -- whether it was the Giants or either of the Wild Card teams, the Braves and Cardinals. Now that they know, it hasn't changed.
"I don't think any differently than any other opponent, which is probably the right approach," first baseman Joey Votto said. "We'll get out there, get a day of work in like we always do. We will focus on the things that got us here -- playing good defense, relying on our starting pitching and bullpen, and really competing."
In the regular season, the Reds went 4-3 against the Giants by winning two of three in their series at home in April and splitting four games at San Francisco in late June. Three of the seven games between the two teams were decided by one run.
"I think you throw all of that stuff out the door once the postseason starts," Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick said. "Season series, I really don't think it matters that much once you get into postseason play. Some people are going to tighten up. Some people will live for the moment. The fans live and die by every pitch. It's just a different atmosphere."
"If you're going to rely on season series, I think you're going to be in trouble," Votto said. "The playoffs can be so random. Anything can happen so quickly. I think we're excited to go out there and play against them. They are a very good team. We respect them. We look forward to hopefully moving on to the next round."
Votto is wise to forget the regular season vs. the Giants, as he batted .227 (5-for-22) against them this season. He also injured his left knee sliding into third base on June 30 at San Francisco, which led to surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage and missing six weeks on the disabled list.
Other players that have fared well vs. the Giants in the regular season are Jay Bruce, who went 11-for-26 (.423) with a homer and seven RBIs; Todd Frazier was 5-for-12 (.417) with a homer; and Ludwick was 7-for-20 (.350) with a homer.
Cincinnati will have Johnny Cueto start Game 1 vs. Giants ace Matt Cain. On June 28, Cueto, who was 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA this season, was a 5-0 loser to San Francisco while giving up three runs and six hits over six innings. He was bested by Madison Bumgarner, who tossed a one-hit shutout.
Cain, who was 16-5 with a 2.79 ERA this season and tossed a perfect game, lost both of his starts vs. Cincinnati and had a 5.54 ERA. On April 24 during a 9-2 Reds win at Great American Ball Park, he gave up three runs over 6 1/3 innings. On June 29 in a 5-1 Cincinnati victory, he allowed five runs and 11 hits over five innings.
"Whenever we're on the road, it's going to be tough, but at the same time, we've got the bulls that can keep going out there and just doing what we have to do," Frazier said. "We've been doing it all year. It should be a lot of fun. It should be a good crowd. I can't wait to feel that atmosphere. I'm kind of excited just thinking about. It's like, 'God, let's get this thing on.' It's going to be my first time. I'm going to try and live it all up. Just keep getting wins, that's it. It doesn't matter how you win now."