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The Reds are dead and Dusty Baker’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapon

Oct 11, 2012, 5:09 PM EDT

Reds' manager Dusty Baker watches from the dugout as his team plays the Giants in Game 5 of their MLB NLDS playoff baseball series in Cincinnati

Scott Rolen just struck out to end Game 5 of the NLDS. The Giants win 6-4 and now they’ll go on to face the winner of the Nats-Cardinals series.

This wasn’t all on Dusty Baker.  It wasn’t Dusty Baker who was beat around like nobody’s business in the fifth inning. That was Mat Latos, who suffered a total meltdown after not getting a couple of close calls, resulting in a grand slam by Buster Posey.  It likewise wasn’t Dusty Baker who ended a would-be Reds rally in the eighth. That had an awful lot to do with the Giants leather, first with Brandon Crawford making a diving stop at short and then Angel Pagan doing the same in center.  Indeed, the Reds stranded all kinds of runners from the fifth inning on. Sometimes, stuff just happens. You don’t get the bounce and you don’t get the clutch hit.

But Baker didn’t do his team any favors in Games 3, 4 or 5, and a good argument can be made that Baker cost them the series because of it.

On Tuesday it was Scott Rolen’s error in extra innings which opened the door for the Giants victory. Given how much Rolen struggled down the stretch, it’s an open question as to why he was playing at all.  Yesterday Baker left starting pitcher Mike Leake in for too long, and he got rocked, forcing the Reds to play come-from-behind baseball almost the whole game.  Then today in the sixth, with two on, nobody out and Ryan Hanigan working the count full, Baker ran them out of the inning with an ill-advised hit and run — or run and hit or a steal or whatever it was — which turned into a momentum-sapping double play.

Any loss is a team effort. But Baker’s decisions put the Reds in disadvantageous situations time and time again against the Giants.  In a short series, that can be death.  It certainly was here.

  1. randygnyc - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    First time all year the Reds lost 3 in a row. Wow- bad timing.

    • geoknows - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:24 PM

      Actually, the Reds lost three in a row several times this year. Their longest losing streak was five in a row in early August. This was the first time it happened at home, though.

      • TheBlindUmp - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:36 PM

        Not if you’re a GIANTS fan!!!!!!!!

  2. merchie89 - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    there is currently no cure for stupid

    • TheBlindUmp - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:37 PM

      quick, look in the mirror…

  3. Marty - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    All I have to say is that the Reds bats in that park are one scary squad, and honestly there was not one out we Giant fans took for granted.

    That being said, it’s hard to win when you get grand fucking slamatized.

    • sailcat54 - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:19 PM

      Clearly, the Giants were hungrier and meaner than the Reds. They deserved to win.

      You can’t place all the blame for the Red’s loss on Dusty Baker or on any one Cincy player: their loss was a collective failure and few, if any of them, can go home feeling really good about his performance in the last three games of this series.

  4. johngaltx - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:15 PM

    Heard all summer how great it was that the Reds only needed 5 starters for the whole season. Cueto gets hurt in game three, and the rest of the squad cannot keep the Giants in the park. Well looks like Dusty burned his starting staff out, and the Reds go down in flames. Good riddance.

    • philsieg - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:32 PM

      Wow, that’s a load of venom. First, Cueto went down in game one. As for the rest of the Reds’ starters, you might want to look up Bronson Arroyo’s seven inning of one-hit, shutout ball in Game 2 and Homer Bailey’s seven innings of one-hit, one-run ball in Game 3. Oh, and Sam LeCure’s and Mat Latos’ efforts in that Game 1 to preserve a Reds’ win. But other than those minor oversights, your rant is spot on.

  5. SOBEIT - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Thank you Reds for helping us make history…first team to come back 0-2 and sweep the road games to win. But gotta give credit where credit is due…I thought you would not make a game of it after the 6 run inning. But you fought and made the late innings sooooooo stressful. The last couple innings defined Giant torture baseball.

    • deep64blue - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:03 PM

      First in the NL that is …..

  6. minimoose763 - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Props to the Reds. They put up a hell of a fight. But Dusty’s philosophy of “well, there’s always tomorrow” really screwed the team over. Game 3 was the turning point. And I’m so proud of the Giants for not backing down!

  7. syracuse451 - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    I guess you could say Craig….dusted for prints YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

  8. chip56 - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    Not that I really care, but it’s possible that Bruce went on his own and that it wasn’t a hit and run called for by Baker.

    • geoknows - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:26 PM

      Not likely, since Rolen went too.

    • anthonyemillard - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:48 PM

      yeah right because old fatass rolen who is fast as a turtle tried to steal second base with one of the best catchers in the league playing

  9. itsonlyaspeedbump - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    this may be a narrative vs facts observation, but it seems like players win playoff games and managers lose them.

    • 1baseballfan - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:37 PM

      It sure feels like that but what about Girardi last night?
      A manager has to put his team in a position to be lucky and he ceratinly did that.

      • paperlions - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:04 PM

        …but the manager is only “smart” when it “works”. It was still Ibanez that won the game….and it didn’t take a genius to see that ARod looks horrible right now.

  10. merchie89 - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Lets trade for A-Rod.

  11. mrredlegz - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    I remember a time back in early August when I wondered wether having 4 guys who would throw way more innings than they ever had would be a good thing come playoff time.

    Dusty and Scotty are free agents, now, aren’t they? Always a silver lining…..

  12. dondada10 - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Congratulations to the Giants. I always brake Sabean’s balls, and the whole Melky thing was a shitstorm, but here are the Giants in the NLCS. Again.

  13. philsieg - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    Congratulations to the Giants and their fans from this Reds fan. I wish it had gone the other way but your guys delivered when the chips were down and simple played better baseball at the GAP. I’ll be rooting for the Giants to go the distance. (I have to. Bruce Bochy and I wear the same size cap. ;-))

    • highhorse666 - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:16 PM

      Congratulations to the Reds too. That was a great series, and I’d be saying the same thing as a Giants fan if it had gone the other way. The Reds are a hell of a team, and they’re set up to get right back into it next year. Great, old-school NL matchup and some damn good games.

    • TheBlindUmp - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:26 PM

      This is what sportsmanship is folks. Gracious after a tough defeat. I wish Dusty Baker and whatever team he manages luck. I hate to see this done against a Dusty Baker team because he takes a lot of flack for having never won a WS as a manager. And his teams have fallen short on some fluke plays. He is an awesome person, was a great Giants manager (and Cubs), but is unfairly blamed when his players fall short. I guess that’s what it is when you get your teams in position but they fall short. It comes with the job. I always root for Dusty though. What a class act he is. It’s good to see that reflected by some Reds fans too. Go Big Red next year! Hope to see you in the playoffs again.

      • highhorse666 - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:43 PM

        Some of the criticism of Dusty is warranted, but often I feel it’s over the top. He is an excellent manager of people, if not the greatest strategic game manager. He’s managed to have a managerial job for 20 years now. There’s a reason for that. I always what his reputation might be if it wasn’t for Scott *#^$*#()!! Spezio in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series.

      • TheBlindUmp - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:18 PM

        Some criticism is always coming, whether warranted or not. As managers, players, or officials, it comes with the job and it’s really part and parcel of sports in general. It’s what fans do and deservedly so. If we/they weren’t passionate about sports, we wouldn’t be on the blogs or at the stadiums. There is nothing more American than complaining. Heck, it’s codified in our constitution! So, you’re absolutely right, it’s warranted. And I agree with you completely about Spezio! We should have had that one.

      • TheBlindUmp - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:21 PM

        But I still love Dusty! Even though Rolen shouldn’t have been in there…Go GIANTS!!!!

  14. sisqsage - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Another example of how the playoffs are a different animal compared to the reg. season.
    The Giants won this on guts. How else do you become the first in the modern era to come back from 0-2 in the divisional round and sweep on the road?
    Yes. There is something to the Dusty Factor, having watched him manage the Giants and now the Reds in the postseason. The 1997, ’98 (play-in loss to the Cubs) and the 2000 SF teams should have done so much better under him in the playoffs, but all fell flat. The 2002 WS is Exhibit A, of course.
    Bochy is superior.
    Another development going forward is the Giants and the rest of baseball (potential FA suitors) may have just learned from this series that Lincecum’s best role on a team may be as a reliever. Good fastball and killer change still.

    He can afford the top notch designer weed now, so asking him to focus for six or seven innings is pretty much out. But 2-3? F-Yeah!!

  15. bh192012 - Oct 11, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    Clearly the cin players are too good for this to be their fault.

    Must be the managers fault that Ryan Hanigan struck out looking on a full count hit and run????

    According to manager Calcaterra of the Ohio Hindsights, they should have stayed put and then been doubled up on the ground ball hit by Drew Stubbs. Then they would have won the game.

    Ok technically I didn’t see the ground ball and maybe it wasn’t the sort of thing that could have led to a double play, but best case scenario there would still be 2 outs. Followed up by Xavier Paul’s strike out. Big whoop.

    • TheBlindUmp - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:34 PM

      Flew out to left, I think, for the third out. Your point is right on though. I wish I could find where to buy one of the crystal balls all of these writers seem to posses. Good blog though Craig, keep up the good work! We’d complain no matter what you say! So you can’t win! I’d say Dusty’s one up on you!

  16. sirrealrainman - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    But Dusty can’t be accountable – he didn’t give away a game ball souvenir this time…

  17. blabidibla - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Pagan’s calling time out (not granted) and Cueto pulling up on the pitch might have been the turning point even though they lost that game. A few pitches later, Cueto couldn’t get through the resulting back spasms, and that put additional stress on the entire pitching staff for the rest of the series.

    • SOBEIT - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:50 PM

      Sorry, but Pagan calling time out had nothing to do with Cueto’s injury…Cueto himself told the staff that he felt something during warmups…before the game even started.

      • mazblast - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:01 PM

        Never confuse the issue by bringing up the facts. The legend will be that Pagan “caused” Cueto’s injury, and to use a movie quote, “When the facts conflict with the legend, print the legend.”

    • jrd8523 - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:55 PM

      Cuetos back was a key issue but his discomfort started as soon as he took the ball. Pagan sequence didn’t help but his back was clearly ready to go at any point. It’s just a bad wind-up for back issues.

    • blabidibla - Oct 12, 2012 at 3:37 PM

      Hello … People….

      Never said Pagan ’caused” anything. Pagan didn’t call the timeout with an intent to aggravate the injury but I think it aggravated it none the less. He clearly was in more discomfort after that non-pitch and had to be pulled.

      It was an accidental series changer.

  18. jrocknstuff - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    Hannigan knew the runners were going. He had fouled off the prior pitch with them moving. There was absolutely no reason for him to be taking there. You have to be swinging at anything close. Baker knew he had a catcher running and wanted to stay out of the double play. I don’t blame him for sending the runners, I blame Hannigan for hanging the runners out to dry. If you watched the game you should have come away with the same conclusion, but your anti-Dusty bias is clouding your judgement.

    • sabatimus - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:21 PM

      I never thought Dusty was a good manager (I don’t think I’ll ever forgive him for destroying Mark Prior’s arm), but why Hannigan isn’t swinging at anything THAT close to the plate with two strikes is just plain dumb. It’s simple protect-the-plate logic. And it failed to happen at exactly the time when the Reds needed it most.

      • hconnor2001 - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:29 PM

        Perhaps Hannigan was under instructions not to clog up the bases.

      • stabonerichard - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:31 PM

        Hanigan is one of the rare players with more career walks than Ks. The pitch he was rung up on was off the plate. I just think it’s tough to blame Hanigan for not swinging at what should have been called a ball and put the tying run on base with nobody out, especially given his track record of outstanding strike zone control.

        And here’s the entire strikezone plot for Matt Cain today, vs. RH batters; it looks like there were 3 pitches close to the edge that weren’t swung at… two of them were called a ball; the other rung up Hanigan. Tough break for the home team.

    • stabonerichard - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:20 PM

      Yep, I don’t know if people who watched the game didn’t realize Hanigan had grounded into a DP in his previous at-bat or what, but clearly that factored into the decision-making. You add to it the fact Hanigan has fantastic strike zone control, as one of the few players in baseball with more career walks than Ks, and Dusty’s decisions came down to 1) decreasing the chance of a GIDP, while 2) trusting his guy at the plate, with a track record of outstanding strike zone control, to make the right decision.

      Oh, and the final pitch of the at-bat was just off the plate. So if the call had instead gone the home team’s way, with the ump making what would have technically been the correct call, the bases would have been loaded with nobody out and a new pitcher coming in.

      But instead Dusty Baker is an idiot. Insightful stuff.

      • TheBlindUmp - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:42 PM

        Pitch Trax is an interesting little thing when displayed on every pitch. It lets everyone be an umpire, kind of. One of the things that makes baseball so great for me is that every umpire’s strike zone is a little different. Player’s have to adjust to that. The game wouldn’t be nearly as interesting to me if we had Pitch Trax “call” every pitch. Some of the “strikes” on Pitch Trax would drive players crazy if it was all they dealt with. When i see some of the “strikes” that were called balls by the umpire it makes me realize that Pitch Trax still has a ways to go before it could become the reality. Plus, it would completely take out “breaks” going for or against your team, which is a huge part of the game and always has been. I guess I’m just a traditionalist.

      • stabonerichard - Oct 11, 2012 at 8:47 PM

        I completely disagree. The inconsistency is maddening. It’s gotten to the point that we accept the fact umps have *unique* strike zones, and we just hope they are consistent with their own interpretation. That’s pretty lame.

        Take today’s situation. Hanigan has proven himself to have a mastery level of control of the strike zone. He’s not an overall great hitter, yet draws more walks than strikes out. And today he had earned himself a critical walk in the bottom of the 6th, representing the tying run, with his keen eye recognizing the pitch was slightly off the edge.

        But because we’re so used to the inconsistency of the umps behind the plate, the outcry is “OMG, you have to swing at that pitch (off the plate) to protect yourself with 2 strikes!!”

        Or because the call was only slightly bad, we simply accept it as par for the course and direct no blame towards the umpire while instead blaming the hitter (who should have had a free pass) or manager (who had put his runners in motion to avoid a GIDP, trusting his guy at the plate would make the right decision, which he did but was burned by the call).

        In other words, I think the human element is horseshit.

      • TheBlindUmp - Oct 11, 2012 at 9:43 PM

        And you know his eye is so keen how? If you’d have had pitch trax calling balls and strikes for his at he would have struck out looking.

      • TheBlindUmp - Oct 11, 2012 at 9:45 PM

        Need the edit function:
        Make that “at bat” and struck out looking several pitches prior to actually being called out by the umpire.

      • stabonerichard - Oct 11, 2012 at 10:20 PM

        Not sure what you’re referring to but it sounds like you’re misreading the chart.

  19. ptfu - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    How come nobody’s yet danged Dusty to heck?

  20. dennisinsf - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    I think one of the overlooked managerial gems by Bochy in this series was having Romo bat late in Game 3, and thus not having Lincecum, who was then warming up, to enter the game. That allowed Lincecum to be available to bail out Zito in Game 4, which as we know now, is ostensibly what occurred.

  21. timpaz - Oct 11, 2012 at 6:43 PM

    Iluv Dusty, but his teams do have trouble finishing.

  22. mazblast - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    As a non-Reds fan who lives in Cincinnati, I cannot WAIT to see and hear the excuses and accusations over the next few weeks. The series win that everyone here took for granted just a few days ago, with people scrambling for tickets to the LCS, has gone up in flames.

    Don’t get me wrong here. I’m going to try not to gloat. I’m a Pirates fan; I know what it’s like to see my team blow it at the end of a series. I do look forward to the usual cacophony of ranting, raving, rationalization, excuse-making, demands, and accusations that accompanies an unexpected turn of events like this. And I shall try to not use the word CHOKE around my more passionate Reds fans friends, since I know exactly how they feel right now.

    • SOBEIT - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:20 PM

      Giants fans know the agony of defeat theme. No championships since moving from NY, until 2010…and in my time, see 98 WS sweep by A’s in the Bay Bridge Series and life changing earthquake that changed many lives in the area…and 02 Game 6 debacle at the hands of the rally monkey Angels (yes that was the Dusty Baker handing the game ball to Russ Ortiz pitcher change…and the game was not even over yet! To this day, I hate monkey’s!

  23. astrosfan75956 - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:36 PM

    Baker was badly out managed.

  24. stiefert - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    I’m a Cardinals fan. First, I want to congratulate the Reds on a great season. This is a team with tons of talent that will undoubtedly be making noise for several years. Votto, BP, Cueto (who I am still pissed at) and others make a great team. I especially like Rolen and Ludwick for their time with the Cards and wish them well.
    Dusty Baker has proven to be a great MLB manager and I hope his health and this setback allow him to compete for many more years.
    So congratulations Cinci fans. If my beloved Cards wouldn’t have made the post season, I’d have been a Reds fan for the duration. I don’t know what will happen with the Cards tomorrow, but I, for one, have nothing but respect for your team.
    Good luck in 2013.

  25. yahmule - Oct 11, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    I usually don’t like to kick a guy when he’s down, but in Dusty’s case I’ll make an exception.

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