Bad breaks or breakdowns? Both put Giants in 2-0 hole

October 8, 2012, 6:45 am
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SAN FRANCISCO Marco Scutaro slowly packed for a flightwith no guaranteed return, still wearing a jersey streaked orange-brown withdisappointment and misfortune.

Sometimes, infield dirt is more than infield dirt.

Inches, said Scutaro, asked how close he came to getting aglove on Ryan Hanigans ground ball, which bled through for a two-run singleSunday night.

All the ground balls hit to me it seemed like I was thisclose to catching it.

The same was not true for Scutaro, or the rest of his Giantsteammates, when they stood in the batters box during this NL Division Seriesagainst the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are getting the luck and the breaks, forsure.

But dirt stains come out easily enough. The Giants, to comecorrect, were nearer to buried alive Sunday night. The Reds outhit them 13-2and outscored them 9-0 to stun a hand-sitting sellout crowd and grab a 2-0 leadin this series.

Scutaro entered the postseason with a 20-game hitting streak inwhich he was hitting .436.

Hes 0 for 8 in two playoff games. He and leadoff man AngelPagan are 1 for 17.

Thats the way baseball is, man, Scutaro said. I goteight at-bats and I have at least three or four hard-hit balls. When things arenot going your way, mentally youve just got to turn the page and staypositive.

Bad luck is a comfortable and convenient fallback. It beatstrying to explain these two games any other way.

Seems like the whole series, everything is bouncing theirway, Scutaro said. They get the momentum going and it seems like we cant geta break. They make a nice play or its at somebody.

Its a short series. It can change real quick. We just haveto come back Tuesday and keep fighting.

RATTO: It's do or be done for Giants

They will try to succeed where 21 other NL clubs havefailed, rallying back to win an NL Division Series after losing the first twogames. And for all their road savvy while winning 10 of 12 series away fromAT&T Park after the All-Star break, sweeping three in the Queen City issomething no major league team has done to the Reds this season.

We know where were at right now and out backs are to thewall, said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who will wait to address the team untilthey reconvene at the ballpark for a 10 a.m. flight Monday. I know they knowwhats at stake, and theyve done a great job all year at bouncing back. Itsbeen done before and theres no choice in this. We have to keep our heads upand be ready to go.

As Bochy and third base coach Tim Flannery know well, the1984 San Diego Padres are one team that came back from a 2-0 deficit to win abest-of-5 series. But they went back home to Jack Murphy Stadium to take threestraight from the Chicago Cubs and clinch the NL pennant.

Time and place and historical precedent aside, and luck,too, the Giants knew from the outset that they wouldnt get anywhere withoutthe kind of dominant, hold-the-line pitching that they received in 2010.

That pitching was nowhere to be found down the stretch, andthere is no plugging those leaks now. Neither Matt Cain nor Madison Bumgarnercould retire a hitter in the sixth inning.

Well, of course you want your pitcher to go out there andgive you a quality start, Bochy said. It hasnt happened these first twogames. Now you hope it happens the next three. Its hard to beat this team ifyou dont get a quality start.

Its tough when those guys arent quite on top of theirgame.

It means the Giants are rallying from behind -- not scoring first, which they did so often while surging to an NL West title. When you trail in 15 of 18 innings, and lead in none, you aren't able to swing or run the bases with the same press-the-issue aggressiveness.

Bumgarner, like Cain a night earlier, had an encouragingfirst inning but left too many mistakes over the plate after that. Catcher Buster Poseyeven said he thought Bumgarner got away with a few mistake sliders.

You hate to see it, Bochy said. Its a good hitting ballclub and they threw out some good at-bats against him.

Bumgarner took the Scutaro approach.

They found holes, he said. I felt good. I was throwingthe pitches I wanted to throw. Just bad luck, I guess.

They guess. If the Giants entertained any other explanation,how could they convince themselves they're good enough to save this season?