Let’s recap tonight’s titanic struggle….
W: J. Contreras (1-0)
L: A. Chapman (0-1)
S: B. Lidge (1)
–None. Absolutely none. I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach.
–Worst loss of the year. By far. No other loss even comes close.
–I just don’t know what to write. The Reds gift-wrapped that game, put a bow on it, and handed it to the Phillies.
–I’m sorry, I was really going to make an effort at recapping this one, but it’s just too painful. I take this stupid game and this stupid team too seriously. A dumb baseball game shouldn’t make me so mad. It’s embarrassing.
–Some relevant points, via ESPN, and I’ll try to add a few thoughts along the way:
From no hits to no defense.
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce missed a seventh-inning line drive after losing the ball in the lights, allowing two runs to score, and the Philadelphia Phillies took advantage of Cincinnati’s shoddy fielding to earn a 7-4 win Friday night for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five NL division series.
Brandon Phillips hit a leadoff homer on Roy Oswalt’s fourth pitch and the Reds built a 4-0 lead before their defense and bullpen unraveled.
“I feel like I let my team down,” Bruce said. “It was in the lights the whole time. I tried to stick with it. It was a pretty helpless feeling.”
Leading 4-3, the Reds turned to Chapman to protect the slim margin in the seventh. The 22-year-old Cuban came in firing, but he hit Chase Utley with a 101 mph fastball leading off. It wasn’t clear whether the ball grazed Utley’s right forearm, but he didn’t seem shaken.
“I’m not sure,” Utley said when asked if the ball hit him. “At first, I thought it was going to hit me in the head. He throws fast. I felt like it hit me, so I put my head down and ran to first.”
The ball absolutely did not hit Utley. What a joke.
After Ryan Howard struck out, Jayson Werth hit a bouncer to third baseman Scott Rolen. Utley beat the throw to second on a close call. Phillips threw his arms up and Reds manager Dusty Baker came out to argue briefly.
I don’t know if Utley was out at second or not. The replay was inconclusive. There is one thing I do know: it was an obvious mental mistake by Rolen, who should have just thrown to first and gotten the sure out. Rolen was nothing short of terrible tonight. I don’t know if his back was hurting (it looked like he wasn’t moving well, and that he was in some pain) but he was the worst player on the field (0-4, 2 Ks, one error, and one immensely dumb mental mistake).
Jimmy Rollins then hit a liner to right that Bruce turned into a two-base error. The lights were the culprit, Bruce said, not the sea of white-and-red “Fightin’ Phils” rally towels.
The ball rolled past Bruce, and Utley scored the tying run. Werth scored without a play when Phillips dropped the relay throw for another error, and the Phillies took a 5-4 lead.
Two errors on that play, including the second error of the game for Brandon Phillips. BP really got things going tonight with his bat, hitting a leadoff homer and later adding a single and a double. His defense, however, was unusually poor, and both errors just killed the team.
If you had told me that the Reds would commit four errors, and they would be committed by Rolen, Phillips, and Bruce, I never would have believed that in a million years.
The Reds finished second in the NL with a club-record .988 fielding percentage, but four errors led to five unearned runs. Their relievers hit three batters, who all ended up scoring. Philadelphia had eight hits, all singles.
Four stupid errors. The only other time the Reds made four errors this season was in that disastrous game in Atlanta back in May, when the bullpen blew that big lead. Heck, the Reds only had 72 regular season errors, and that was tied for the second-fewest in baseball.
More error trivia, from ESPN: The 4 errors by the Reds tie an LDS record, previously done 5 times. The last time the Reds made 2 errors in an inning in a postseason inning– Game 3 of the 1972 World Series. Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan made an error on the same play in the 6th inning.
Arroyo allowed two unearned runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. The shaggy-haired right-hander, a 17-game winner, used an assortment of slow curves and other off-speed pitches to baffle the Phillies. He reached 90 mph on the radar gun just once, on his 38th pitch.
Arroyo was good tonight. Not one bad thing that happened tonight was Arroyo’s fault. He gets the win tonight if the Reds don’t play like a Little League team.
Two defensive gaffes by two of Cincinnati’s best fielders allowed the Phillies to get back in it in the fifth. Then wildness from the Reds’ relievers made it even closer an inning later. …
Phillips, who led NL second baseman in fielding percentage, booted Victorino’s two-out grounder to put two runners on in the fifth. Then Rolen, a seven-time Gold Glove winner, bobbled Polanco’s grounder to load the bases.
Utley followed with a two-run single to cut it to 4-2. The stoic Utley slapped his hands together at first base in an uncharacteristic display of emotion while the sellout crowd roared. But Arroyo fanned Howard to end the inning.
–Aroldis Chapman was just fine tonight, too. Utley faked an HBP on an 0-2 count. Chapman then got a K, and a grounder to Rolen that should have been the second out. There was one hard hit ball the entire inning, but the stupid defense was just awful (and that hard hit ball should have been caught by Bruce). As Joe Sheehan said on twitter, how many outs does he need to get?
–Some of you said that getting no-hit in their playoff debut wasn’t an embarrassment. Well, what do you call tonight? The Reds looked like they didn’t deserve to be there, like the bright lights of October were too much for them. Those weren’t the Reds I’ve seen all year. It’s disheartening.
–What really makes it hurt so bad is that the Reds were a few innings away from tying up this series and having a legitimate shot at making the NLCS. In a flash, however, everything was turned upside down. Now the good guys are in serious trouble. It makes me sad.
–I love this team, and I always will, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that they may not be ready for prime time. I hope I’m wrong, but time is running out. Maybe this experience will be good for the young guys.
–I have never — NEVER — felt worse after a Reds game. And I’ve been living and dying with the Reds for almost thirty years.