CINCINNATI -- For the first five months of the season, the Reds' offense found itself in the top half of the National League in nearly every statistical category. Combine that with solid pitching and stout defense, and Cincinnati discovered a recipe for success.
The final month of the regular season was a different story, as the Reds finished dead last in the NL in runs scored, home runs and RBIs, and in the bottom five in average, on-base percentage and hits. But they still managed to post a 15-11 record in September despite the struggles at the plate.
The Reds have shown spurts of how good they can be when the pitching and hitting come together -- winning 10 straight in July as part of 22 wins in 25 games -- and the club feels the two are converging yet again, and at the best possible time.
"Our pitching was carrying us for a while. There was a time our hitting was carrying us for a while," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "I'm hoping now that during this course of the playoffs, both of them can carry us, you can be strong on both ends. That's the epitome of having a great time."
The Reds gave a glimpse of how great that combination can be, trouncing the NL West-champion Giants on the road by a combined score of 14-2 in the first two games of the NL Division Series.
Cincinnati's pitching staff held the Giants to seven hits in Game 1 and just two knocks in Game 2, pitching its 13th shutout of the year Sunday. The Reds' offense exploded for nine runs in Game 2 -- a feat it accomplished 11 times in the regular season -- ripping 13 hits.
"It's a pretty special feeling because you get one or the other and a lot of times you win," said center fielder Drew Stubbs. "But whenever you get both, you win like we did [Sunday]. If we can keep that up, we're a dangerous squad, and we know that we're capable of doing that every time out. It's just a matter of getting out there, taking good at-bats and having our pitcher stay on top of their game like they've been."
The pitching staff entered the playoffs hotter than ever, rounding out September with its lowest ERA of any one month all season at 2.91.
"I'm going to stick with pitching being the main component to winning championships, but if it comes together at the right time, I believe we can win the World Series," said right fielder Jay Bruce. "Obviously we have to take it one step at a time, and we have done well as of late, and we're going to continue to do that."
Baker sticking with same lineup in NLDS
CINCINNATI -- During the first three games of the National League Division Series, the Reds have featured the exact starting eight against the Giants.
With fewer at-bats to go around during the postseason, Reds manager Dusty Baker isn't sticking with his regular-season routine of mixing and matching to keep players fresh.
"That's tough during the playoffs," Baker said on Tuesday. "You're basically trying to keep everybody fresh during the season in order to get to this time. You get to this time where guys are still fresh because you spread out the work. There is going to come sometime soon, depending on the time of the games, when I'm going to give a guy a rest or a blow, so to speak."
Baker would like to find a way to get rookie infielder Todd Frazier into the lineup. Frazier filled in well for third baseman Scott Rolen and first baseman Joey Votto when they were hurt in the regular season.
"It's very hard to keep Frazier out of there, but I try to get him in there when I can because Scott Rolen is still Scott Rolen," Baker said. "[Rolen's] our team leader on the field; and to keep Frazier out of there right now, like I tell you, it's tough. The world is his probably the next 10 years [and] who knows, this could be Scott's last go-round, so I'm sure he wants to go out with a bang."
Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. Mark Clements is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.