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NLDS Game 1: Cincinnati Reds Bullpen & Co.

Tom Fitzgerald

Thomas Fitzgerald is co-founder of XN Sports.Follow @FitzyXN
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Cincinnati Reds Ace Johnny Cueto was forced to leave in the first inning of game one of the NLDS on Saturday night with what appeared to be a serious injury. Cueto only threw eight pitches on the night. Fortunately for the Reds, it was later was confirmed by ESPN.com he was suffering from routine back spasms. Either way, the Giants did not have to deal with a 19-9 pitcher. In short, they were given a gift.

Johnny Cueto
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) leaves the game against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of game one of the 2012 NLDS at AT&T Park. Kelley L Cox/US PRESSWIRE

Or so it seemed.

The Reds pitching staff rallied behind Cueto as Cincinnati went on to win 5-1.

We usually point out the Jerks here—the ones who blow it—and maybe the San Francisco Giants offense fits the bill for the night. But this time the good outweighs the bad and the Reds pitching staff should be commended for their performance on Saturday night.

Right-hander Sam LeCure came in for Cueto and pitched 1.2 innings of shutout relief. Mat Latos followed with four innings of one-run relief. Sean Marshall pitched one hitless inning. Jonathan Broxton had a shaky eighth but escaped unscathed. Aroldis Chapman had a rough ninth but struck out Posey with a 100 MPH fastball for the win.

Dusty Baker has become accustomed to great relief work by his bullpen this year. In 431.1 innings pitched, Reds relievers posted a National League best 2.65 ERA. Over the course of the regular season they held opponents to a .219 batting average and had an NL best 56 saves.

Saturday night was a distilled version of what Cincinnati’s pitchers have been doing all year.

The Giants only managed one run on seven hits after Cueto left in the first. No matter how you try to spin this one, the Giants blew a huge opportunity on Saturday when Cueto went down. If Cueto’s back spasms are not serious, there is a distinct possibility he could return to this series—a scenario that may just get the Reds to the next round of the playoffs.

Other notable players from game one of the NLDS:

Jay Bruce 2-4, HR, RBI.

Brandon Phillips 3-5, HR, 3 RBI.

Buster Posey 2-5, HR, RBI.

Stats courtesy of ESPN.com