Game 1 of the NLDS was a prime example of the difference experience in the post season can make for a team. The Reds entered the game with the majority of their players experiencing their first-ever playoff games. And for their first game, the Reds found themselves on the road in front of one of baseball’s most hostile, electric crowds. They were also facing a Phillies team with three years of playoff experience, and coming off two straight World Series appearances.
The Reds looked tight coming out of the gate, and facing Roy Halladay in front of the Philadelphia crowd, they weren’t able to get a man on base until the 5th inning. The mastery of Halladay continued as he calmly mowed down batter after batter on the way to the first post-season no-hitter since Don Larson in 1956.
Inexperience showed up quickly for the Reds. After starter Edinson Volquez gave up a double to Shane Victorino in the first inning, catcher Ramon Hernandez made a poor throw to third base trying to catch Victorino stealing. If veteran Scott Rolen hadn’t made a good play on the ball, it would have gone sailing into left field and Victorino would have come home easily. Victorino did finally score on a sacrifice fly.
In the 2nd inning, the Reds made several costly mistakes that gave the Phillies a 4-0 lead. With two outs, shortstop Orlando Cabrera couldn’t decide whether to get Wilson Valdez out at first, or if he should throw to second. The end result was Cabrera making a poor, off balance throw to second that missed the target, rolled into the infield, and kept the inning alive. The next batter was pitcher Roy Halladay who hit a soft line drive into left field that Jonny Gomes took a poor angle on, resulting in the Phillies second run, and the top of the order coming to bat with runners on first and third.
Clearly rattled by this point, Volquez proceeded to walk Jimmy Rollins to load the bases. Volquez then got into a long battle at the plate with Shane Victorino. Victorino worked the count to 3-2, and then fouled off a number of pitches before delivering a base hit to score two runs and chase Volquez from the game. Of particular note is the patience from both Rollins and Victorino that produced the big inning, a rare quality for both in the regular season. Again, it was their post-season experience that helped produce the big inning.
While the Reds were feeling early butterflies, the Phillies weren’t fazed in the least. The first round of the playoffs is nothing new for players on this roster. The Phillies are well past being overwhelmed by the first round of the playoffs, and instead are focused on their ultimate goal: a second World Series title in three years. The Reds ran into a buzz saw on Wednesday evening. We’ll see how they rebound in Games 2 and 3.