A capsule look at Reds-Giants playoff series

Associated Press Modified: October 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm •  Published: October 4, 2012

Giants: In April, the Giants lost All-Star closer and 2010 major league saves leader Brian Wilson to a season-ending injury. In August, they lost All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera to a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test. Just as he did two years ago during that World Series championship run, GM Brian Sabean brought in key pieces to fill key needs: Scutaro at second and Pence in right field. They're not quite the castoffs and misfits of 2010 — Cody Ross, Pat Burrell — but more a team that overcame the absence of switch-hitting Sandoval because of two DL stints and moved forward seemingly unfazed when Cabrera got suspended. ... Posey, who missed most of last season after serious leg and ankle injuries from a frightening collision at home plate with the Marlins' Scott Cousins on May 25, returned every bit the player he was during his 2010 NL Rookie of the Year campaign. ... Manager Bruce Bochy was spot-on mixing and matching in the bullpen all year, including in the closer spot after Casilla initially held the gig in place of Wilson. Newcomer Pagan made a huge impact down the stretch, while Posey captured the NL batting title and put himself in the running for MVP honors. ... Giants rookie Hector Sanchez might catch, with Posey moving to first base, when Lincecum or Zito starts.


Watch For:

— Zito's Second Chance. The lefty makes his playoff debut for the Giants. He was held out of all three postseason rounds in 2010, but bounced back this year with his best season since the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner with Oakland joined the Giants on a $126 million, seven-year contract before 2007. San Francisco has won his last 11 outings. The last time the Giants won 10 or more consecutive starts by one pitcher was when they won 11 in a row with Bill Swift starting in 1992.

— Dusty's Back. Baker returns to the Bay Area in the playoffs 10 years after he managed the Giants to a World Series defeat against the Angels before departing on difficult terms and taking over the Chicago Cubs. He was honored during the Reds' summer trip to AT&T Park. Nobody will forget when Baker's then-3½-year-old bat boy son, Darren, ran into the action before J.T. Snow scooped him up at the plate and out of harm's way. Baker is in the final year of his contract and missed a string of games down the stretch because of an irregular heartbeat and a mini-stroke. Doctors cleared him to return for the final regular-season series in St. Louis, but the 63-year-old manager will have to cope with cross-country travel for the first time since then.

— Cy Young Or Bust? Lincecum pitched the Giants past the Rangers in the Game 5 World Series clincher at Texas in 2010. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner got off to a miserable start this season but made strides down the stretch. Still, he set a career high for losses.

— Pressure Cooker. Chapman's numbers are impressive but he's still a work in progress — Baker had to admonish him when the reliever did two somersaults after saving a game in late June, showing he still has trouble keeping his emotions under control at times. The Reds could use Broxton to close if Chapman struggles.

— Kung Fu Panda. Sandoval has something to prove in these playoffs after his flop in 2010. While his ever-changing girth is the subject of constant scrutiny, he wants nothing more than to make up for two years ago. Because of his struggles, Sandoval appeared in only six postseason games and one in the World Series — batting .176 (3 for 17) with two RBIs and three strikeouts.