As if voters needed any more of a reason to elect Buster Posey the NL MVP this season, he gave it to them anyway.
Posey was the lone bright spot in the Giants’ Game 1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T Park on Saturday night.
He went 2-for-5 with a home run and a single, responsible for San Francisco’s only run on the evening.
It was Posey’s home run seemingly off the end of the bat and over the left field fence that accounted for all of the Giants’ offense on Saturday night.
More importantly, it brought the crowd into the game.
The packed house at AT&T Park, scattered in a sea of orange and black, seemed to be dying to get into the game with any spark necessary.
The Posey home run was the jolt the crowd wanted and needed, but that was all they were fed on Saturday night.
It was not set up to be that way, though.
A pitcher’s duel in a pitcher’s ballpark pinned aces Matt Cain and Johnny Cueto against each other.
However, it is never the way managers draw it up in the MLB playoffs.
Eight pitches into the game, Reds starter Johnny Cueto left with back spasms, forcing manager Dusty Baker to go to his bullpen early and without much notice.
Baker’s use of reliever Sam LeClure in a pinch was impressive for the moment, leaving expected Game 3 starter Mat Latos time to warm up and ease into a rhythm in the bullpen.
Latos entered the game in the third inning, going four innings and allowing four hits and that one Posey home run.
“Obviously, we didn’t expect it,” Posey said. “It was not like we weren’t going to see Latos later in the series anyway.”
Hunter Pence mentioned that the team had prepared and seen film of Cueto, but had yet to get around to studying Latos.
Asked what that feeling could be like for Latos coming into the game so early and abruptly, Cain answered, “I don’t know, I’ve never done it.”
It was an inning partially centered around Posey in the ninth that allowed the Reds to pull away from the Giants in Game 1.
Santiago Casilla came into the ballgame to hold the Reds and keep the game within striking distance for the final half inning, but a mixture of misfortunes, wild pitches and past balls allowed the Reds to score two runs off Casilla and give Cincinnati a 5-1 lead.
It was a passed ball allowed by Posey after several near wild pitches from Casilla that seemed to be the final stake driven into the Giants’ Game 1 hearts, despite an impressive bout against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning.
However, the Giants will not be able to win this series if they cannot produce offense against the Reds’ starters more than what Posey was able to do.
Cincinnati’s bullpen is as good as any team in the league, and we saw that on Saturday.
“I think we had some tough breaks on balls hit hard,” Posey said. “It’s the way it goes sometimes.”