SAN FRANCISCO This can't be a surprise.
Putting all emotion aside, the Cincinnati Reds had to be considered the favorites in a divisional series against the Giants and they emphatically proved why over the weekend here.
Sunday's dominant 9-0 win over the Giants not only pushed the 2010 World Series champs to the brink of elimination; it validated the Reds as an undervalued baseball power.
By the top of the eighth inning, Giants fans were flooding the exits in a mass retreat that you simply don't see around here.
Cincinnati sent nine batters to the plate in that frame of reckoning by the Bay. The Reds scored five runs, crushing balls all over the yard as Reds third-base coach Mark Berry had to have developed a rotator cuff issue from excessive waving to runners rounding third.
When it was done, Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" blared from the stadium speakers, though the sounds of a San Francisco classic rock band were no longer the background music of World Series wonder.
The old saw simply sounded ironic.
Pockets of Giants fans that were left by the bottom of the eighth were relegated to giving Aubrey Huff, the 2010 hero turned pinch hitter, a nice hand as he ran off the field after flying out to center field.
It seemed as if it was a fan base saying goodbye to a faded player who provided so many memories just two years ago. Huff kept his head down and never looked up 2010 seemed so long ago for him and the orange-clad people showing appreciation for him.
Then it was back to Reds pitching mowing down Giants hitters.
Coupled with the A's losing two games to the Detroit Tigers and also being one loss from elimination, this has to be considered one of the darkest weekends in Bay Area baseball history.
At least the A's get to come home to Oakland to try to save their season with three straight wins starting Tuesday.
The Giants? They go to a ballpark in Cincinnati that does not hold many happy memories for them.
No, this isn't a Giants obituary for the season because the team still has to lose one more game for said obituary to be written.
And it should be noted that a majority of Giants fans stayed until the bitter end, cheering for their guys to score one run as if that would have mattered in the outcome. It was very sweet and might have been the final communal moment for a special brand of devotion to a team celebrated passionately in this place from April until Sunday.
Fittingly, Pablo Sandoval was stranded at third when Hunter Pence grounded out to end it. The Giants being shut out was the last indignity before the sea gulls began hovering over the AT&T bleachers for scraps.
Now the Giants are going to Cincinnati having to sweep three games from a Reds team that never lost three straight at home all season.
That's what we're talking about here. This weekend was no aberration.
It simply underscored how almost everything the Giants did to win the National League West going away, the Reds did better.
Starting pitching, relief pitching, defense, wins, wins on the road and winning percentage after the All-Star break the Giants were very good at all of that and more in 2012. The Reds were better.
It was the same story Saturday and especially Sunday, when Reds starter Bronson Arroyo hypnotized Giants hitters with odd arm angles and an exquisite command of pitches he aimed wherever he wanted and whenever he wanted.
Like Matt Cain on Saturday, Giants starter Madison Bumgarner wasn't terrible Sunday. He just wasn't good enough. Fallen Giants ace Tim Lincecum pitched well in an odd turn as a reliever after Bumgarner exited, but it didn't matter.
Giants reliever Jose Mijares was an inspired pickup by the Giants brass and so good during the season but he got crushed. So did Guillermo Mota, a 2010 hero.
Reds hitters were dialed in on Bumgarner once they got a good look at him. Giants hitters couldn't do anything with Arroyo or the men who followed him.
What can you do? The Reds have been better all year.