SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 07: Ryan Ludwick #48 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a solo home run against the San Francisco Giants in the second inning of Game Two of the National League Division Series at AT&T Park on October 7, 2012 in San …
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SAN FRANCISCO - Grab a cup of coffee and some toast, the Reds' bats have woken up from a late-season hibernation.
After more than a month of batting .230 as a team, and having their home run production cut in half from 38 in August to 15 in September, the Cincinnati Reds came to San Francisco with offense on their minds.
With three home runs in two days, and a series of nine hits that contributed to scoring runs in Game 2, the Reds have found their groove at the plate again.
The team hobbled into the postseason, winning games on pitching and defense alone in a 16-13 September/October that was a cause for concern headed into this series and facing such good starting pitching.
"To get the bats going was huge, there was a lull after we clinched with guys, for whatever reason," Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan said after Game 2. Hanigan drove in three runs. "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. That's big especially as the postseason goes on."
This is the first time the Reds have scored nine runs since Aug. 31 when they beat the Astros 9-3, and their highest run total other than that was just six when they clinched the NL Central on Sept. 22.
"Yeah, our pitching carried us the last month of the season, and sometimes you go through periods of streaks where you're not scoring runs or you're not finding holes, not having very good at‑bats," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Just seems like once somebody starts hitting then it's contagious throughout your lineup. That's what happened. Brandon started hitting in this series, Ryan Ludwick hadn't had much success off the tough left‑hander tonight. Joey 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. If I knew why and the secret of that, then, I might really make a lot of money."
The Reds hit .297 in Games 1 and 2 at AT&T Park in San Francisco, which brings them above their season-high August levels. The concern was that the Giants' hot bats would out-gun the Reds anemic late-season offense, as they came into the postseason batting .297 themselves in the last month of the regular season.
Brandon Phillips has had the best individual turnaround after riding the worst of the Reds' late slumps. Phillips is 5 for 10 in the NLDS after batting .196 in the last month of the season. And Ryan Ludwick, who homered in Game 2 to get the scoring started, had only hit one long ball since Aug. 18.
And more important than the Reds bats lighting up the scoreboard is that they were able to get the Giants' starters out of the game early in the first two games, with Game 1 starter Matt Cain gone before the sixth and Bumgarner out in the middle of the fifth inning in Game 2.
If this hot-handed hitting keeps up, fans at Great American Ball park might just cheer the Toyota truck off its stand. Does that count as winning it?
First pitch of Game 3 is at 5:37 p.m. Tuesday night. Homer Bailey (3.68 ERA) takes on Ryan Vogelsong (3.37 ERA).
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