Marcos Breton

Jose Luis Villegas /

Giants starter Matt Cain didn't toss a terrible game Saturday night against the Reds, but he was simply too hittable.

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    Best of five; x-if necessary

    • Game 1: Tigers 3, A's 1

    Today: A's (Tommy Milone 13-10, 2.74) at Detroit (Doug Fister 10-10, 3.45), 9:07 a.m., MLB

    Tuesday: Detroit (Anibal Sanchez 4-6, 3.74) at A's (TBA), 6:07 p.m., TBS

    x-Wednesday: Detroit at A's, TBS or MLB

    x-Thursday: Detroit at A's, TBS

Marcos Breton: Good fortune, good pitching go missing for one night

Published: Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012 - 12:07 am | Page 1C
Last Modified: Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012 - 7:56 am

SAN FRANCISCO – In 2010, seemingly every break, bounce of the ball and umpire's blown call went the Giants' way as they won an improbable World Series.

That was then.

On Saturday, the Giants' return to the postseason was everything 2010 was not as they fell 5-2 to a formidable and fortunate Cincinnati Reds team.

With a trip to Ohio looming after tonight's critical Game 2, the Giants are in a playoff hole they never experienced in 2010. They never lost the first game of the three series they won to take the title.

That makes today's game a must-win for the Giants to avoid going down 0-2 in a best-of-five series.

Even when the Reds' luck seemed to be bad on Saturday, it turned out good – while fortune pulled pranks on every Giants opportunity.

It was fitting that this odd contest ended when Buster Posey, the Giants' MVP-candidate catcher, struck out swinging while representing the tying run.

It was the punctuation on a postseason script re-written by the Reds. The Giants' ol' magic carpet turned into a rug that kept getting pulled out from under them.

What a big Giants break it seemed to be when Reds ace Johnny Cueto left the game after eight pitches and one out in the first inning, all because he tweaked his back while stopping his pitching motion when he shouldn't have.

Giants leadoff hitter Angel Pagan was denied a timeout when he backed out of the batter's box, and it was Cueto's right to throw home, but the Dominican right-hander jerked his body to an awkward halt and grimaced ominously.

In fact, Cueto said he began experiencing discomfort before the game.

It seemed like Brooks Conrad luck. He was the Atlanta Braves infielder whose key errors moved the Giants along in October 2010. Or it was akin to a Texas Rangers home run bouncing off the top of the wall and back into play during the 2010 World Series.

And then it wasn't.

Reds manager Dusty Baker, well, managed it.

The Sacramento legend, looking fit and trim after suffering a recent stroke, exorcised some demons left over from his Giants days – while making moves to beat the Giants.

Some Giants fans still blame Baker's pitching hunches for the Giants' loss in the 2002 World Series.

How curious that the Reds won a key game here they might have lost because Baker made the right moves with his pitching staff.

Baker won with the quick Band-Aid of Sam LeCure to finish the first inning and wobble through the second.

Then he tabbed Reds starter Matt Latos, a Giants killer, to hold San Francisco down for the next four innings.

That's two starting pitchers plugged in on the fly to hold down the Giants. Baker had to make the call in a hurry while absorbing the loss of his ace just like that.

One minute Latos is thinking he is starting Game 3 in Cincinnati on Tuesday – the next he's throwing here.

Considering Baker's legacy with the Giants, that's very interesting Karma going against the Giants.

Now it's all on young Giants starter Madison Bumgarner, so magnificent in 2010 and so hittable down the stretch of the season.

Bumgarner now must pick up Giants ace Matt Cain.

On Saturday, Cain also did something he never did in three fantastic postseason starts in 2010 – give up a run. He gave up three runs.

And it was so uncharacteristic how it happened – when Cain hung an 80-mph curveball that Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips crushed for a two-run homer in the third inning.

Another lollypop pitch from Cain, an 85-mph changeup, was equally crushed by Reds right fielder Jay Bruce.

Cain wasn't terrible; he was simply too hittable.

The same could be said for Bumgarner down the stretch, and we won't even talk about former Giants ace Tim Lincecum.

The Giants won on stellar starting pitching two years ago and, at least for one night, lost when it went missing along with their good fortune.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Marcos Breton

Marcos Breton, news columnist

Marcos Breton

Hello, my name is Marcos Breton and I'm the news columnist with The Sacramento Bee. What's a columnist supposed to do? I'm supposed to make you think, make you laugh, make you mad or make you see an issue in a different way. I'm supposed to connect the dots on issues, people and relationships that cause things to happen or prevent them from happening in our region. I also write a weekly baseball column during the baseball season. I am a voter in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yes, I have voted for Barry Bonds - twice. I am a native of Northern California. I am the son of Mexican immigrants. I've been at The Bee for more than 20 years, and I love Sacramento.

Phone: 916-321-1096
Twitter: @MarcosBreton

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