Reds postgame notes: Baker not comfortable...yet

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Reds postgame notes: Baker not comfortable...yet

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dusty Baker has seen this movie before.In 2002, his Giants were eight outs away from winning the World Series in Anaheim when he pulled Russ Ortiz.A year later, his Chicago Cubs were five outs away from winning the National League pennant before Bartman became analogous with the Curse of the Goat in the Windy City.So yeah, the Reds returning to Cincinnati with a 2-0 lead over the Giants in the best-of-five National League Division Series after Sunday night's 9-0 victory feels good to Baker and Co. Just not good enough. Not yet, anyway."You're not comfortable at all until it's over," Baker said. "It's hard to take the last breath out of anything, and that is their last breath and they're trying to get a hole, win Game 3, then Game 4, and it's back to even so we're trying to stop it from getting back to even, you know, any kind of momentum."It's very important and it's important that we try to end it, if we can, especially with our situation with Johnny Cueto, that would buy us some more time. It's always important to try to get it over with as soon as you can."Before Ryan Ludwick's second-inning leadoff home run, he had been 1-for-16 in his career against Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, who had thrown a one-hitter at the Reds on June 28 at AT&T Park."Just seems like once somebody starts hitting then it's contagious throughout your lineup," Baker said. "That's what happened.Brandon (Phillips) started hitting in this series. Ryan Ludwick hadn't had much success off the tough lefthanderJoey Votto, once everybody starts hitting, feels like everybody is going to hit. There are some times when you can't buy runs and there are other times that you can score runs at will.GUTIERREZ: Arroyo paints corners, befuddles Giants
"If I knew why and the secret of that, then I might really make a lot of money."The Reds outhit the Giants, 13-2, while Ludwick was 2-3 with his first career postseason homer. Votto had three hits with two runs scored in his first career multi-hit postseason game.The Reds were not swept in a three-game series at Great America Ballpark all season and did not lose three straight at home this year.RATTO: It's do or be done for Giants
Ryan Hanigan was 2-4 with three RBI, becoming the first Reds catcher with a multi-RBI playoff game since Benito Santiago on Oct. 3, 1995, against the Dodgers."But we've been winning games on pitching and defense and it's good to see the bats come alive, top to bottom, really, yesterday and today, different guys contribute and go everyone has been getting hits," Hanigan said."That's big especially as the postseason goes on."The Reds' 9-0 victory was the Giants' worst postseason shutout loss in franchise history.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.