Stuck in neutral

 Why does it seem like the Reds go one step forward and two steps back a lot? Because of games like Sunday’s 7-5 loss.

The Reds were in this game, even after trailing 5-0 through four innings. But they kept missing the big opportunity parked on their laps — going 1-for-11 RISP and stranding 14.

“We had plenty of action,” manager Dusty Baker said. “From the opening inning, we couldn’t get the one or two big hits. And Markakis got two two-out hits. That was big and kind of the ballgame in a nutshell.”

The Reds are mired in fourth place at one game over .500 (40-39) and four games out of first place. They have claimed one of the last five series and have dropped the last three in Interleague.

It’s not doomsday time at all in a weak and winnable NL Central, but if the Brewers start to take off, the Reds better show they are ready to keep up. Although they show moments of breaking out, like on Saturday, they’re not catching that consistent spark and putting back-to-back wins together … and that’s troubling.

Notes:

*Brandon Phillips fifth-inning solo home run was his first since May 14. By going 2-for-4, Phillips is third in the NL with 28 multi-hit games.

*In the fourth inning, Joey Votto and the rest of the infield seemed to lose an Adam Jones routine pop up in the sun. Homer Bailey made a desperation dive, but it landed for a single. Bailey was pitching pretty well up to that point, but it was the start of a four-run inning and it was tough sledding from there for Bailey.

*Bailey finished with five runs on a season-high nine hits with two walks, five strikeouts and two home runs.

*The Reds missed a chance to take the lead in the sixth after sending nine to the plate. Four-straight walks from three different Baltimore pitchers helped and walks to Gomes and Lewis forced in two runs. Jim Johnson threw nine of 11 pitches for balls, before Drew Stubbs hit a 1-0pitch for an inning-ending fielder’s choice. It might have been a good time to take and force Johnson into a corner again.

*Jose Arredondo walked the first batter of the Orioles’ sixth inning and Blake Davis later scored on Nick Markakis’ two-out single. Arredondo has retired 11 of 21 first batters faced this season, but only two in his last nine appearances.

*The two teams combined for 13 walks today. Joey Votto drew three walks as Baltimore worked around him, not letting repeat his strong Saturday game.

Quotes:

“We have to keep treading water until you start swimming. It’s not through lack of effort. We’re in every ballgame. We’re so close to taking off. You feel it. You see it. We’re one hit away, one play away or one something away from winning almost every game.” — Dusty Baker

“After that happened, I left the ball a little bit up to Guerrero. The pitch I threw Lee was exactly where I wanted it to go. He either guessed right or it was what he was looking for. After the ball leaves my hand, I only have so much control. I threw it where I wanted it to go and he hit it out.” — Homer Bailey on the missed pop-up and subsqequent damage.

“I’m not going to say it’s a tough loss. It’s a sad loss because I feel like we’re better than that. We have the players on our team that can go out there and win. Right now, it’s just not our time. I hope that we pick it up and learn from the mistakes and come through when we need to come through.” — Brandon Phillips

“Baseball is a game of ups and downs. Right now, we’re just in between. Yesterday, we were hitting the ball out of the park. Today, we can’t get key hits in key situations.” — more Phillips

“Ran some high counts and unfortunately I ran out of rope at the end of the game. But that last inning was frustrating. I thought I made a good pitch on Heisey and he kind of flipped it into right field with two outs. Then I tried to be careful with B Phillips and ended up walking him. That’s a frustrating way to end the outing, but overall i felt I was able to throw my pitches where I was trying to for the most part.” — Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie

 

5 Comments

Very true. Lots of reasons for today’s all too typical loss for 2011. But the most critical runs allowed were the final two yielded by the bullpen. This year they have, collectively, failed to keep close games close far too often. I realize there’s not much to be done concerning today’s culprits. Arredondo is out of options and, I instinctively think, worth hanging on to. So he must stay on the 25-man and not be exposed to raiders prowling for waiver opportunities. But, for now, he doesn’t have to be used in tight situations. And, of course, one isn’t about to give up on a 30 million dollar investment. But if I were calling the shots, he’d be going through his growing pains away from the glare of the lights of the “show”.

Sadly this is a 4th place team and BOB and WALT REFUSE to fix the obvious needs of this team!! To be happy with a offense at SS that is the worst in baseball and has 15 errors!, (Walt says he likes their defense), is ridiculous.!! If I am the owner i am showing my players that help is on the way either by promoting Cozart and Sapplet to lite a dang fire on this team.. I would explore any trade to upgrade the Reds to have a chance before the season is gone.. I would ask the dodgers about Kemp and Kershaw or Billingsly . If that includes trading Alonso and Stubbs, then do it.. How is sitting still waiting for a team to all hit when its not happening since the first 6 games of the season?? the first 6 games this team looked focused, determined and since then it looks lost half the time. today Stubbs after watching the pitcher walk in 2 runs, he swings on 1-0.. You mean to tell me Baker doesnt tell his guys when to take?? that was ridiculous!! more bad coaching and thats not going to win a division with less on the bench and a weak SS and LF and Rolen isnt the hitter he was the 1st half of last year. Also Edinson is not a ACE.. Cueto is developing into one..but because i never was a MLB player doesnt mean i cant judge what i see with my own eyes. there is ZERO Urgency to Win this season.. the 1st to 3rd running isnt there, and it doesnt take a rocket scientist to see it.. All this sit back attitude tells me as a fan the front office is satisfied with 2010 and not hungry enough to go farther. wish Mark Cuban would buy this team!!

Who said Volquez was the ACE? You? The media? I haven’t heard that from anyone. He’s not the ace, doesn’t get paid like an ace, so let’s not judge him like he ace. And we aren’t getting Kershaw or Kemp, so you can forget about that. This team is fine, we’ll win the division, calm down. Go watch Buckeye football replays.
Curt

Stubbs swinging on the second pitch today was a coaching nightmare. They couldn’t find the plate with a GPS and he has the green light? 1-0 and he swings, this is not little league but it is a great example of the lack of focus this team and staff have right now. I hope they wake up before they are 10 games back.

Mark, heard you on SportsTalk Sunday morning; liked your comments there, and like your summary at the top of today’s entry. If the Reds were 4 games out with 3 weeks to play, we’d call it a pennant race. Why does it seem like the fading dreams of a lost season here before the All-Star break? For me, it’s because this team isn’t as much fun to watch as last year’s; and because I had really high expectations regarding it’s performance this year; because winning a dismal NL Central and getting bashed in the playoffs isn’t really enough anymore; and because the clock is ticking on Votto’s tenure as a Red. A small market team can’t really afford a ‘stuck in neutral’ year, it seems to me. Or, at least, fans of such a team can’t afford it. Our windows of opportunity seem so small. Put me in the camp of changes-for-changes-sake. Shake things up.

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