The Cincinnati Reds scored four in the first and four in the fifth, in cruising to a series-opening 8-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants Tuesday night, in 82 degree weather at Great America Ball Park. Homer Bailey went six innings for the win, giving up three runs on five hits, while walking one and striking out seven.
It has long been established that Tim Lincecum’s first inning can be a time of guess and by golly. Such was the case Tuesday night in Cincinnati, as Timmy gave up a four-spot in the bottom of the first inning, punctuated by Devin Mesoraco’s two-run shot, and another four-spot in the fifth, hammered home by Brandon Phillips’ 2-run double. He settled down during the 2nd-4th innings, retiring nine in a row, but gave it all up in the fifth.
The Giants scored one in the first, one in the second and one in the third, making the score 4-3 at that time, but that was as close as the Giants would get. After the Reds blew the game open in the bottom of the fifth, San Francisco would go meekly the rest of the way, with the final thirteen batters being retired in order.
For the Reds, it was all about the top half of the order. The numbers one through five guys scored all eight runs and accounted for seven of the eight base hits. In addition to the big blows by Phillips and Mesoraco, Billy Hamilton went two for five, and Jay Bruce went two for four with a double and two driven in.
San Francisco started out well enough by making sure Bailey would not throw another no-hitter, when Hunter Pence hit a home run in the first inning. A sacrifice fly by both Joaquin Arias and Pablo Sandoval accounted for the Giants’ second and third runs.
The underlying strength of the Giants is its starting pitching, and it just wasn’t there tonight. I do not know if Tim Lincecum’s problem is mechanical or mental, or a little of both as it seemed tonight. But he has got to figure it out if the Giants are going to continue to be successful, especially that first inning.
Having now lost eleven of their last twelve games in Cincinnati, the Giants need Ryan Vogelsong to stop the carnage tomorrow night, and help them even up the series. Otherwise, the Reds might start thinking they have something on the Giants, and we can’t have that now, can we?