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.