10/10/12 9:30 PM ET
In all-or-nothing bind, Reds not panicking
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
There is a crisis in Cincinnati, where the Reds are on the brink of an unprecedented National League Division Series collapse.
Since the advent of the Division Series in 1995, no NL team has won the first two games of the best-of-five series and then bowed out, something the Reds are at risk of doing after consecutive losses to the Giants at Great American Ball Park. Wednesday's 8-3 Giants rout forced a win-or-go-home Game 5 on Thursday at 1 p.m. ET on TBS.
"They've had their backs against the wall for two games now. Now it's our turn," Reds left fielder Ryan Ludwick said. "We won two at their place, they've won two here, and it's turned out to be a good series. We're going into Game 5. It's all or nothing."
It's Mat Latos for the Reds against Matt Cain for the Giants.
"We control our destiny," Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said. "I feel like their backs are still against the wall. They're not at their home field. We are. We have that going for us."
For what it's worth, the Reds also have history on their side:
In the Wild Card era, 21 NL teams before this year had taken a 2-0 lead in the Division Series round, and all 21 went on to the Championship Series. Overall, 38 of 42 teams up 2-0 in Division Series play have won the series -- only the 1995 Mariners, 1999 Red Sox, 2001 Yankees and 2003 Red Sox have overcome such a deficit in American League Division Series play.
Only two NL teams have come back from being down 2-0 to win any best-of-five postseason series -- the 1981 Dodgers over the Astros in a Division Series made necessary by a season-splitting strike, and the 1984 Padres over the Cubs in the NLCS before that round went to a best-of-seven format. Reds manager Dusty Baker was the starting left fielder for that '81 Dodgers team; he scored the winning run in the series-deciding Game 5.
Only once in postseason history has the road team won every game in a series -- in the aforementioned 2010 ALDS between the Rangers and Rays. The Reds are hoping to keep it that way.
In the regular season, the Giants have not swept a three-game series in Cincinnati since 1999.
And in more recent history, the Reds did not lose three consecutive home games at any point in 2012.
Ludwick was not exactly comforted by that last fact.
"I think a lot of people look into numbers from the regular season too much," he said. "The postseason is a whole [different] ballgame. You can throw matchups, numbers, pitchers facing batters, out the door."
Can you do the same with Baker's history in these situations? Beginning with Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, Baker's teams are 1-8 when they play with a chance to clinch a Postseason series. The lone victory was Game 5 of the 2003 NLDS, a Cubs win over the Braves that sent Chicago to the NLCS.
Dusty's difficulties with clinch on the line
"We have a big game, the rubber match, tomorrow," Baker said. "If we win tomorrow, it doesn't matter how many games you were up. But you know, they're a quality team, and we knew it was going to be a fight when we got here."
The series has shifted quickly.
The Reds reported for work on Tuesday afternoon with a commanding lead after never trailing in the two games at AT&T Park in San Francisco. They won Game 2 in a rout, 9-0.
But since the series shifted to Cincinnati, the Reds have never led. They missed opportunities for big first innings in both games, and have stranded 17 men on base in the two games. In Wednesday's Game 4, the Reds left eight runners on base in the first four innings alone, and stranded 10 men overall.
They finished 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, getting their Game 4 runs on Todd Frazier's bases-loaded walk in the first inning, Ryan Ludwick's home run leading off the third and Brandon Phillips' sacrifice fly in the sixth.
"We just have to keep thinking we're still ahead," Frazier said. "We know what we're capable of and know what we can do. Bottom line, let's execute and keep on having fun. Everybody is fine. We're talking here in the locker room already. It's do or die tomorrow, but at the same time, we're the same team with the same bunch of guys. We'll keep battling tomorrow."
"Have fun" was a common mantra.
"It will be fun. We have a big game to win," said catcher Ryan Hanigan, who did not play Wednesday but should handle Latos in Game 5. "This isn't how we drew it up, but we're going to go out there, play loose, play aggressive and try to win. I have a lot of confidence in [Mat]."
"Granted, we didn't want to get to Game 5 like this," center fielder Drew Stubbs said. "But we're looking forward to the challenge."
Who has the advantage?
"Flip a coin," Stubbs said.