CINCINNATI — Homer Bailey played catch in the sun-splashed outfield at Great American Ball Park, his usual routine the day before a start. Nothing different at all, as far as the Texan let on.
“You guys,” he said afterward, “it’s just another game.”
Uh-uh. Not buying it. Everyone knows the Cincinnati Reds pitcher has a chance to exorcise a lot of bad postseason history – or add to it – with his next start.
Up 2-0 in the series, the Reds need one more victory to advance, with as many as three chances left at home. It’ll be a breakthrough if they get it.
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It’ll be Bailey’s first appearance at Great American Ball Park since his no-hitter in Pittsburgh on Sept. 28. He followed the no-hitter with four shutout innings in a 1-0 loss in the final game of the season at St. Louis, an easy outing to save him for the playoffs.
Bailey led the NL with a 2.32 earned-run average on the road this season, but is only 18-19 with a 5.13 career ERA at home.
Cincinnati hasn’t won a home playoff game in 17 years, a span of futility etched into the franchise’s storied history.
Maybe it’s finally their time.
“I had this one kid give me a sweatshirt that said, ‘The Year of the 12,’” said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who wears the uniform number. “He gave it to me in spring training. I believe in that. … It’s a special year. I just feel that it’s our year.”
Their first shot at it will make major league history.
The Giants and Reds both had pitchers throw no-hitters this year – Matt Cain had a perfect game for San Francisco. When Bailey starts today, it’ll mark the first time two players who threw no-hitters in the regular season pitch on opposing teams in the same playoff series, according to STATS LLC.
The Reds put themselves in position for a sweep by overcoming the loss of ace Johnny Cueto to a bad back in the first inning of the opener, then pulling out a 5-2 win. They won 9-0 on Sunday night behind Bronson Arroyo’s seven crisp innings where he only allowed one hit.
The Giants are hoping to extend the series and have named left-hander Barry Zito their Game 4 starter.
Washington alum and two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum will remain in the bullpen.
Manager Bruce Bochy feels Zito deserves the start.
“(Zito’s) been really on top of his game, and I think he’s earned this,” Bochy said. “When you win your last 11 games that a pitcher starts, it’s a pretty good thing.”