San Francisco Giants at Cincinnati Reds (-123, 7)
Series is tied 2-2
Riding a wave of momentum, the San Francisco Giants look to make history in the decisive Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds. If the Giants can win their third straight game, they’ll be the first NL team to ever come back from an 0-2 deficit in the Division Series to win. NL teams are 0-21 since the Division Series was added in 1995, and overall 38 of the 42 teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in the Division Series have advanced. Despite the odds, the Giants have to feel good about their chances after tying the series Wednesday with an impressive 8-3 win. The Reds were forced to start Mike Leake in Game 4, but they’ll have 14-game winner Mat Latos pitching on four days' rest in Game 5.
After batting .126 as a team in the first three games of the series, the Giants’ offense came to life in Game 4 with 11 hits and three home runs. The top three hitters in the Giants lineup - Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval - combined to go 6-for-11 with three doubles, two home runs, and five RBIs after going 4-for-37 (.108) in the first three games. While the Reds have left 17 runners on base in their last two games, Giants manager Bruce Bochy has pushed all the right buttons and was able to rest relievers Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt on Wednesday. The Reds did not lose three consecutive home games at any point during the regular season, and the Giants have not swept a three-game series in Cincinnati since 1999.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, TBS\
WEATHER: The forecast is calling for clear skies and temperatures in the high 50s. Winds are expected to blow SSW at 6 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Reds RH Mat Latos (0-0, 2.25 ERA) vs. Giants RH Matt Cain (0-1, 5.40)
Latos threw 57 pitches over four innings in relief in Game 1 and went 7-1 with a 2.46 ERA over his last 14 regular-season starts. Pablo Sandoval is 6-for-29 (.207) against Latos, who is 4-3 with a 2.19 ERA in 11 career starts against the Giants, including 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in two starts this season. Latos hasn’t recorded a loss in eight outings and has given up one run or less in his past four appearances.
Cain’s scoreless inning streak to begin his postseason career ended at 23 1/3 innings in Game 1, when he allowed three runs over five innings. Cain took two of his five losses this season against the Reds, allowing eight earned runs in 13 innings, including four home runs. Ryan Ludwick is 8-for-22 (.364) with three home runs against Cain, who gave up homers to Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce in the series opener.
* Over is 3-1-1 in the last five meetings.
* Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings in Cincinnati.
* Giants are 3-7 in the last 10 meetings in Cincinnati.
* Giants are 2-7 in Cains last nine starts vs. Reds.
UMP TRENDS - Tom Hallion:
* Road team is 6-1 in Hallions last seven games behind home plate.
* Over is 4-1 in Hallions last five Thursday games behind home plate.
* Giants are 4-1 in Cains last five starts with Hallion behind home plate.
1. Reds starter Johnny Cueto was placed on the disabled list with an oblique strain on Wednesday, and he won’t be eligible to return unless the Reds reach the World Series.
2. The Giants are seeking to become the first major league team to overcome an 0-2 deficit in a five-game postseason series by winning three consecutive games on the road.
3. Beginning with Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, Reds manager Dusty Baker’s teams are 1-8 when playing with a chance to clinch a postseason series.
St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals (+103, 8)
St. Louis leads series 2-1
The first playoff game in Washington in 79 years did not go exactly as planned. If the second one isn’t much better, then the city won’t get a third. The St. Louis Cardinals will be looking to close out the best-of-five series behind Kyle Lohse on Thursday. The Washington Nationals, who trail 2-1, will try to find some offense and even things up. The Nationals have stranded 30 runners in the series and were shut out in Game 3.
Washington’s offensive issues are most apparent in rookie Bryce Harper, who is 1-for-15 in the series, and Adam LaRoche (1-for-11), leaving Ryan Zimmerman on an island between them in the lineup. The Cardinals have been able to jump on Washington’s starters quickly in the last two games, exploding for four runs in the first two innings of each contest. That breathing room has given St. Louis manager Mike Matheny the luxury of setting up his bullpen and going to it at the first signs of struggle from his starter. Matheny also has a hot lineup, with Carlos Beltran and David Freese each batting over .400 in the series.
TV: 4:07 p.m. ET, TBS
WEATHER: The forecast calls for clear skies and temperatures in the high 50s. Wind are expected to blow SW at 6 mph.
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cardinals RH Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86 ERA) vs. Nationals LH Ross Detwiler (10-8, 3.40)
Lohse is part of the reason St. Louis is in the NLDS after striking out six and yielding two runs in 5 2/3 innings to earn a win against the Atlanta Braves in the wild card game. The right-hander posted his two worst starts of September against Washington. Lohse was reached for a combined 12 runs (nine earned) on 17 hits in 11 2/3 innings but did not factor in the decision in either game. LaRoche, Danny Espinosa and Michael Morse each homered off Lohse while Harper went 3-for-6.
Detwiler will be making his first start since Sept. 30 and did not instill a lot of confidence in Nationals fans during his last two turns. The 26-year-old was knocked around for 12 runs (eight earned) in 7 1/3 innings in that span, issuing eight walks and three home runs. The ugliest one came against St. Louis, when Detwiler walked five in just 2 1/3 frames. Beltran reached him for a two-run homer in that game. Detwiler, who grew up a Cardinals fan in Missouri, has been at his best at Nationals Park, posting an 8-2 record with a 2.59 ERA.
* Over is 7-1 in the last eight meetings in Washington.
* Over is 13-3 in the last 16 meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in Lohses last five starts vs. Nationals.
* Cardinals are 2-8 in the last 10 meetings in Washington.
UMP TRENDS - Jim Joyce:
* Home team is 4-0 in Joyces last 4 games behind home plate.
* Over is 19-7 in Joyces last 26 games behind home plate.
* Nationals are 2-5 in their last 7 games with Joyce behind home plate.
1. Washington has not dropped back-to-back games at home since falling to Philadelphia on July 31 and Aug. 1.
2. Cardinals LF Matt Holliday fouled a ball off his left leg in the eighth inning on Wednesday. He stayed in and delivered a two-run single but was lifted for a pinch runner after limping down the line.
3. Nationals SS Ian Desmond is having a strong series offensively, going 7-for-12, but went 0-for-6 against Lohse in the regular season.