SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 07: Joey Votto #19 and Chris Heisey #28 score on a two run double hit by Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds in the eighth inning of Game Two of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco …
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CINCINNATI - It's been the most talked about topic so far this October: The experience the Reds gained after falling victim to a three-game 2010 NLDS sweep by the Philadelphia Phillies and how it has helped them to prepare for this year's playoff run.
The way the Reds' 2012 NLDS against the Giants has gone so far, they've taken a page out of the 2010 Phillies' book.
Instead of a no-hitter in Game 1, the Reds threw a two-hitter in Game 2, and the bats came out swinging, much like the Phillies' did in Game 2 of 2010 when they scored seven runs.
If the Redlegs stay on that same plan of attack, they should have this NLDS wrapped up before 9 p.m. Tuesday.
The Phillies eliminated the Reds in 2010 in their third matchup 2-0 on the back of the third straight excellent pitching performance, that one by Cole Hamels, who threw a complete game shutout on a very beat up Reds lineup.
"Back then when we got swept by the Phillies, we were playing one of the best teams we'd ever seen in modern baseball from pitching staffs to speed to hitting, to everything," Reds skipper Dusty Baker said of the experience. "We're just older, we're all older... some of 'em are younger, but experience helps."
Brandon Phillips said getting swept in 2010 has helped the Reds in 2012.
"I feel like 2010 was a learning experience," Phillips said. "We were all young and that was my first time going to the postseason. We made a lot of mistakes and it was a learning experience. This year we're trying to go out and not make the mistakes we made our first time there."
The Reds want history to repeat itself, with the favor in their direction this time as Homer Bailey (3.68 ERA) takes the mound in Game 3 coming off a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates followed by 4 innings of shutout work against the St. Louis Cardinals. Bailey's ERA in his last 10 appearances is below 2.00, and he's looking better in the last 30 days than at any other time in his career.
"This is the healthiest Homer has been, this year," Baker said of Bailey. "Homer has had something the last three or four years that has prevented him from going the whole year. He just threw a no-hitter last month, and we feel he's on the way. We think he found what he needs in order to work out and in order to stay healthy. Once you find yourself, like everybody doesn't find themselves at the same time. He's on the way."
When asked why he had been so successful this year, Bailey stated simply, "it doesn't hurt to throw."
Bailey faces off against Ryan Vogelsong (3.37 ERA), a 35-year-old right hander who has only allowed one earned run in his last three appearances, but before that he hit a rough stretch, and his ERA for the month of September was at 6.46.
Vogelsong and Bailey were matched up on April 26 this season, also at Great American Ball Park. They both looked good, but Vogelsong left more over the plate and gave up four earned runs with five Ks through six innings that included a Jay Bruce two-run home run, while Bailey kept the ball down, only giving up two earned runs with six strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched.
With both pitchers coming into the postseason on hot streaks, it's likely we'll see a similar flow of play to Game 1, with less hits strung together on offense and more home runs.
There were several balls that Giants hitters tattooed to deep parts of AT&T Park in Games 1 and 2 that will leave Great American Ball Park, so Bailey will have to again keep his stuff low around the middle of this Giants lineup.
At the plate, the Reds just need to keep doing what they've been doing and wait on breaking balls over the plate and poke fastballs the other way to get the offense going.
The Giants were visibly demoralized after Game 2, much like the Reds in 2010, and it will be tough for them to recover after a long flight to Cincy. Don't expect Bailey to pitch a shutout like Hamels in 2010, but he'll have the upper hand on the minimally motivated Giants' bats.
The Giants will probably get a couple of runs, but it won't be enough with how good the Reds' offense has looked in the first two games.
Bring the brooms Reds fans, and practice your howling, Tuesday night could be the clinch to the first Reds National League Championship Series appearance since 1995, when they were swept by a very good Atlanta Braves team.
Game 3 prediction: Reds 5, Giants 3.
First pitch is at 5:37 p.m. The game can be seen on TBS, and we'll post LIVE updates of the game as it unfolds here on WCPO.com.
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