Wow, who would have thunk it? Quick thinking Baker sets stage for Reds win

Reds pitcher #61 Bronson ArroyoEight pitches into the Cincinnati Reds first 2012 postseason game many thought the freak and so untimely injury to pitching ace Johnny Cueto was a harbinger, an omen and a very bad one at that. It could have been something that could well have shaped the series that could have been, in the long run, doomed from the outset, one lost eight stinking pitches into the game and the beginning of the end to such a promising season.

And it just may turn out that moment may well have shaped the series after all in a way hard to imagine.

Reds manager Dusty Baker had to roll the dice with little time to think about things, an impromptu decision with his fanny to the proverbial flames and in this case he may have pulled the most pivotal game of the series out of the fire with something that was in no uncertain terms a stroke of genius.

With its ace gone, Cincinnati was facing either a bullpen that would be spent in the very first game of the series against a very good San Francisco Giants team as well as messing up the rotation for the remainder of the series, or so it seemed in those frantic moments when the unexpected and frankly unthinkable occurred, the team suddenly facing a tough series without its prized hurler.

In this case, all is well that ends well as the gamble worked to perfection the way it unfolded as the Reds went on to win that game and now stand ahead by two games in the series. And in Game 2, so many put all those worrisome questions wondering if the team would hit, to rest in the process.

Not only was the split-second Game 1 decision by Baker and his coaches masterful to call into action starter Matt Latos who worked four solid innings as a middle-man pressed into emergency service, but the way he brought in durable and unflappable Sam LeCure in a most unenviable situation in enemy turf in SF was perfect. Baker bought time with LeCure for the pressed into action Latos to get ready in a situation he was unaccustomed to by immediately brining on Sam LeCure to cushion the transition.

LeCure, unfazed by the situation, did what he is supposed to do paving the way for Latos and then the bullpen did what it has done all year, with Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman in customary order finishing the deal, all while the Reds were once again scratching across enough runs to once again beat Giants’ ace Matt Cain.

This move was paramount considering the series pitted two prized starting rotations and at the outset it appeared the Reds starters that have been so dependable all year may   have met their match in the Giants’ rotation of fine hurlers, when in truth, it appears the pitching-rich Giants have in fact met theirs.

Actually dependable may be an understatement as all four Reds starters surpassed 200 innings this season and are in a groove with Cueto, Homer Bailey, Latos and Bronson Arroyo arguably the best starting rotation in the National League, battle tested. Poised and ready for the long haul.

Recently, with three games to play in the regular season that was exciting right down to the final day with teams jockeying for postseason spots and position, my computer went on the DL with a preview column all set, but forced to be trashed. But some tidbits from the column that is somewhere in cyberspace included the aforementioned starting pitching prowess of the Reds and a couple of names.

While most of America zeros in on names such as Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, realizing they are two of the many who makes this team go, a team that won 97 games by the way, the first name that came to mind here as the series was about to unfold was Brandon Phillips.

Yours truly felt at the start of this series the Reds would go as second basemen Phillips goes and that same theory still holds true. Forget the fact that he is one of the greatest glovemen at his position the game has ever seen, this guy is a fire starter and so invaluable to this team and so very versatile. Baker can pencil him into any spot in the batting order and the guy is dangerous and may well be the key cog in this team’s fortunes.

Of course there are others who will have to play a part and here is where Votto and Bruce come into the conversation.

Simply put, Bruce had to shake the funk he was in and exhibit some patience at the plate, something that seemed all but lost when the series began and of course, there is Votto who despite continuing to slap line drives all over the park and drive balls into the gap, has to somehow regain his power stroke. He had yet to hit a homer since coming off knee surgery September 5th .

That is where slugger Ryan Ludwick comes into play, a must for this team, one that does not bust fences, but is quite capable of scoring just enough runs to support a stellar pitching staff.

Yes, all in all, with Game 3 of the NL Division Series looming at GABP, things have fallen nicely into place and one hurried but calculated move may have set everything into motion in this series for Cincinnati.