The Giants and the Reds were tied for most of Game 3, yet it seemed like they were down nine runs from the start. The hangover from Sunday’s emperor-has-no-clothes loss didn’t help. Neither did the fact that the Giants went without a hit off Homer Bailey for an inning longer than it took until Belt broke up Bronson Arroyo’s no-hit bid in Game 2.

Throw in Bailey’s no-no in his last start against Pittsburgh, and the Giants seemed destined to relive the post-Posey/Freddy 2011 season — especially once the Reds figured out Ryan Vogelsong after squandering an opportunity to knock him out of the game in the first inning.

Except the Reds never did.

The player of the game, according to the station with the most interesting (translation: frightening) camera angles in baseball, was Buster Posey. Fine, he’s the Giants’ MVP and he collected the Giants’ only hit to lead off an inning since Joaquin Arias singled to start the ninth inning in Game 1. But let’s not forget…

RYAN VOGELSONG

The Giants thought they were going to get this kind of effort from Matt Cain. Madison Bumgarner was a dicey proposition at Great American Ballpark but so, so nails at AT&T — yeah, there’s no need to rehash Game 2. Turns out Cain and Bumgarner aren’t perfect.

Vogelsong was lucky Brandon Phillips decided to take that extra base on a wild pitch (nice play by Posey there). The velocity on Vogelsong’s fastball was as high as it’s been all season, but his breaking stuff was on the flat side and he ended up throwing 28 pitches in the opening inning. After that, Vogelsong threw four of the best innings of his career at the best possible time: two walks, no hits allowed.

Then Bruce Bochy went into Hyper-Manager Mode and took us on a ride we’ll never forget, on a roller coaster that was missing parts and squeaking the entire time. Yet these players came through and live to fight another day. I’m still not sure how it happened.

Oh wait, it was the pitching.

JEREMY AFFELDT

If you thought it was insane and borderline humorous that Affeldt collected $5 million dollars this season after his 2011 season ended prematurely via frozen hamburger separation, just wait until he reaches free agency this time. Let’s just put it this way: the Giants won’t be bidding against themselves.

SANTIAGO CASILLA

Headcold this. It wasn’t Michael Jordan in Utah with the flu, but it’ll do.

JAVIER LOPEZ

He’s the $500 bottle of scotch in Bochy’s bullpen cabinet. Only for special occasions, while those with nothing truly at stake wish Bochy would take him off the shelf more often.

SERGIO ROMO

Truth be told, Romo wasn’t all that sharp. In the ninth inning I’m not sure what was more frightening, TBS’ camera angles or all those pitches Romo left up in the zone. In the end, Romo pitched two perfect innings with a spirited (yet overmatched) at-bat sandwiched in between. Perhaps he should take notes on Casilla’s plate approach.

Stolen BASGs

– Get ready, this broom is going to be the talk of baseball over the next 12 hours or so. Hey, that’s a long time nowadays!

– Only two logical explanations for this lady’s decision to bring this to the ballpark to push her team to a series sweep.

  1. She’s blind.
  2. She watched the Peanuts Christmas special (the one where they dress up that spindly tree and make it beautiful) a few too many times.

– For those of you thinking I’m being too harsh, just be happy I’m not sending out tweets like this:

And their mamas dress them funny too, amirite?!?!

– It took an error by Scott Rolen, but part of me felt like there was no one else I’d rather have at the plate in that situation than Joaquin Arias. 10th inning, two runners on, big fat fireballer on the mound, bring it.

– Did Joey Votto get mono while he was injured? He looks skinnier to me, and hasn’t homered since June 24.

– Bochy tore through his bench until only Hector Sanchez was left, Xavier Nady was in left, Arias was at short and the best option after Sergio Romo got used up was … Tim Lincecum. I’m no Bochy-basher, but he should send Rolen a bottle of that $500 scotch after tonight.

– Hunter Pence gave a pregame speech, made a dangerous-looking catch as he slid into the wall early on, cramped up during his at-bat in the tenth, singled to left to put Posey in scoring position, then refueled before heading back out to the field.

In a baseball sense, the Giants looked like Michael Jordan until that last inning. But as bad as Pence and the rest of the team (other than Posey) has looked during this NLDS, they got the job done tonight.

– Speaking as someone who was completely unprepared to write a postmortem on the Giants, thank goodness they came through tonight.

– I’ll be at The Boardroom tomorrow eating lunch and watching Barry Zito and the Giants take on the Reds in Game 4 tomorrow, starting at 1 pm. Come and join me if you’re free.