CINCINNATI -- Homer Bailey played catch in the sun-splashed outfield at Great American Ball Park, his usual routine the day before a start. Nothing different at all, as far as the Texan let on.
"You guys," he said afterward, "it's just another game."
Uh-uh. Not buying it. Everyone knows the Cincinnati Reds pitcher has a chance to exorcise a lot of bad postseason history or add to it with his next start.
Less than two weeks after he threw the 15th no-hitter in the history of baseball's first professional franchise, the 26-year-old Bailey has a chance to add another career moment. He can complete a division-series sweep of the San Francisco Giants tonight.
Up 2-0 in the series, the Reds need one more victory to advance, with as many as three chances left at home. It'll be a breakthrough if they get it.
Cincinnati hasn't won a home playoff game in 17 years, a span of futility etched into the franchise's storied history. Everyone remembers the Big Red Machine winning back-to-back World Series in 1975-76. The 1990 Nasty Boys team swept Oakland to win another.
Since then? Little more than heartbreak. Got swept by Atlanta in the 1995 NL championship series under manager Davey Johnson. Lost a one-game playoff for the NL wild card to the Mets in 1999 at Riverfront Stadium. Got swept by the Phillies in the first round two years ago.
The Giants stayed overnight on the West Coast and flew in during the afternoon, trying to get a little needed sleep in their own beds. Probably wasn't very restful only four teams have overcome a 2-0 deficit in the division series.
Manager Bruce Bochy couldn't tell by what he heard on the flight to Cincinnati that his team was down to its last loss.
"I think more than anything, they were relaxing back there, doing what they normally do," Bochy said. "Some guys were playing cards. We did have some family on the trip and they were watching movies. There was really nothing any different than any trip we take. So I can't say I noticed anything different about it."
Out of the conversation, but not out of the minds for the 2010 World Series champions.
"The cliché is to say it's just another game, but I feel 'just another game' doesn't count when you're talking about the postseason," said right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who starts today. "And when you're talking about being down 0-2 in a series, you can't say it's just another game, either."
If Vogelsong and the Giants can extend the series, Bochy said Monday that left-hander Barry Zito would start Game 4. And the Reds were still unsure whether ace Johnny Cueto would be available.
Game 3: Giants (Vogelsong 14-9) at Cincinnati (Bailey 13-10),2:37 p.m., TBS