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Bay Area teams force crucial game fives

Both looked dead in the water just days ago, but Bay Area rivals Oakland and San Francisco both keep their continued postseason chances alive with big Game 4 wins on Wednesday.

The two sides now look to unexpectedly close out their respective Divisional Series and move one step closer to a repeat of the 1989 ‘Battle of the Bay’ World Series.

San Francisco Doing it On the Road

Dropped from the starting rotation, Tim Lincecum came up big in a lengthy relief appearance on Wednesday, leading the Giant's to an 8-3 win over the Reds.

Failing to make the most of homefield advantage, the Giants jumped out to an early 0-2 start against Cincinnati, looking anemic on the field as they did so. Now, playing across the country in Ohio, San Francisco has turned things around, culminating with Wednesday night’s 8-3 win over the Reds to force a decisive Game 5 in this NLDS series.

The Giants got help from an unexpected source as Tim Lincecum – omitted from the starting rotation for this series – pitched 4.1 innings in relief, essentially shutting down the Reds with 42 strikes on 55 pitches. Lincecum picked up the ‘W’ thanks to some assistance from San Francisco’s lively bats, which tallied 11 hits, one shy of the entire output for the previous three games.

Now the Giants will attempt to upset the Reds in Game 5, and in the NLDS as a whole. Action starts at 1:07 PM ET on Thursday. So can San Francisco do the unthinkable and advance to the NLDS? Bettors might want to consider the following.

  • No NL club has ever began a divisional series 0-2 and gone onto advance to the next round. There is hope though; four AL teams have done exactly that.
  • Cincinnati starter Mat Latos has recorded a 2.19 ERA against San Francisco in his last 11 regular season starts. He also pitched in Game 1 of this series, a game in which the Reds defeated tonight’s Giants starter, Matt Cain.
  • The Reds have not lost three games in a row at Great American Ballpark all season.

The future doesn’t look bright for the Giants, does it? However, here’s a little fact that may give San Francisco fans and bettors alike something to smile about:

  • Cincinnati has not won a postseason elimination game since beating the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series.

Believe it or not, that period only actually takes in three elimination games. Still, a streak is a streak.

Cincinnati enters the game as favorite to win.

Oakland Taking Advantage of Homefield

Coco Crisp was the Oakland hero in Wednesday's 4-3 walk-off win over the Detroit Tigers, a win that forces a fifth and final game.

With San Francisco taking care of business in the afternoon, the Oakland Athletics took to the field Wednesday night looking to replicate the achievements of their cross-Bay rivals.

The A’s fell to a 0-2 start in Detroit, before returning to Northern California and homefield advantage, taking Game 3 2-0. In a series that has been close all along, things got even closer in Game 4.

Trailing 3-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the A’s pulled out another stunning walk-off win – the club’s fifteenth of the season – on the back of hits by Seth Smith and Coco Crisp. Tigers closer Jose Valverde could only look on in dismay as this season’s miracle story continued to roll on.

Oakland now hosts a decisive Game 5, with Justin Verlander and Jarrod Parker due on the hill. As with San Francisco, questions now surface as to whether the A’s can take it to the next level.

Here’re some tips for bettors looking to get a handle on this one.

  • Detroit starter Justin Verlander is 3-0 with a 0.90 ERA against the Oakland this season. He’s also won five straight dating back to the regular season, compiling a ridiculous 0.77 ERA.
  • Oakland is 2-8 in its last 10 postseason elimination games, a streak that dates back to 1990’s World Series loss to Cincinnati. That period saw the A’s lose four straight Divisional Series between 2000 and 2003.
  • The A’s will attempt to become only the fifth team to successfully navigate a 0-2 start in the best-of-five round. The team doesn’t have to look far for inspiration: Oakland has been on the losing end of two of those successful turnarounds, against the Yankees in 2001 and the Red Sox in 2003.

Oakland enters the game as favorite to win.

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