CINCINNATI -- There's been no question that Joey Votto has been better than any player in the National League Division Series at getting on base. Through the first four games, Votto was 5-for-14 (.357) with three walks and a .471 on-base percentage.
But two stats have stood out: zero home runs and zero RBIs. Votto has clearly not been at full strength with his surgically repaired left knee. He had no homers in the regular season after he returned on Sept. 5.
"I don't think Joey feels 100 percent, but he's a 'hit getter,'" Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said. "He can take the other aspects of his game and make them the best in the league. He missed eight weeks and he walked almost 100 times. That's not something that a lot of people do -- they play the full season, and that's what they're best at. Joey's best asset is the ability to not make outs, and doing that tends to help you score runs, and even when he's not driving the ball he's the best at getting on base."
Votto was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position, missing on two chances in Game 4 with a soft flyout in the second inning and a strikeout in the fourth as the Reds lost an 8-3 game to the Giants.
Reds manager Dusty Baker would rather have Votto at 95 percent than not have Votto at all. His getting on base makes pitchers work from the stretch and provides run-production chances for others.
"You know, he's healthy, but he's not as strong as he was before, and he probably won't be as strong until into next season," Baker said. "Right now he's doing what he can do, and he's as healthy as he can be."
Baker hopes for deep start by Latos in Game 5
CINCINNATI -- When it is an elimination game, the "book" is thrown out by the managers, and they'll do anything to win and survive.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy did just that in an 8-3 Game 4 victory, when he pulled Barry Zito after 2 2/3 innings, used situational relievers in the third and fourth innings and then used Tim Lincecum for 4 1/3 innings of relief.
The same approach was expected from the Reds in Game 5, where the winner advances and the loser goes home.
Reds manager Dusty Baker didn't tip his hand on the availability of his entire pitching staff behind starter Mat Latos. But one would have to expect that starters like Bronson Arroyo were available if needed. The bullpen has been relatively fresh throughout the series.
"You hope that Latos takes us deep into the game," Baker said Thursday morning. "Naturally we're not just saying it's 'all hands on deck,' but right now it's Latos' game, and we hope that he can take us deep, deep, deep into the game and we can have a big offensive day. That would be primo right now."
Baker had no trouble getting to sleep Wednesday night, but staying asleep was a different matter.
"You think about different things," Baker said. "You try to have positive thoughts for your team. We're not ready to go home yet. I still believe this is our year. What else are we supposed to believe? I listen to the TV and it's like we've lost already."