CLEVELAND — Bryan Price isn’t going to pull any bases from the ground and discus toss them into the outfield but it isn’t difficult to tell when the Reds manager is upset.
He was upset Monday night.
The Reds lost the opener of their four-game, home-and-home series with Cleveland, 7-1, at Progressive Field. How they lost was what had Price incensed as he sat in the manager’s office after the game.
"We’re a .500 team after 112 games; we’re 56-and-56," said Price. "What was disappointing and unacceptable tonight was the fact that we didn’t have our head in the game at all, especially those first five innings."
In those first five innings, Price said two players forgot how many outs there were. Starting pitcher Alfredo Simon didn’t cover first base on a ground ball to first baseman Brayan Pena. And despite putting pressure on Cleveland starter and ace Corey Kluber with five base runners in the first three innings, Price said a three-run homer by Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall that made the score 4-0 in the fourth inning all but ended the game.
"There was feeling that the game was over," said Price. "We did rally a bit and come to life in the last couple of innings with a little bit of energy in the dugout but it was unacceptable. We haven’t done that much this year but what happened tonight was unacceptable from an effort and a mental perspective. That’s not the way we play. That’s not the way we’ll play again. We need a lot better than that."
Losing in Cleveland is nothing new for the Reds. Monday was their 10th consecutive loss at Progressive Field since a 6-4 win on May 22, 2010.
After scoring seven runs on 15 hits to close out a 3-1 series win in Miami on Sunday, however, the manner in which the Reds played perplexed Price.
"Any team will have games like that, and hopefully it’s very few over the course of a year," said Price. "We haven’t had many. Even when we had the big lead against Toronto and they scored 14 runs on us, they just hit and hit and hit and we couldn’t stop it. It wasn’t from a lack of effort or quit. Today there just wasn’t any energy. I don’t know what it was.
"It’s unlike our club and that’s why I think it will be an anomaly in the season. It won’t be something we’ll see as a recurring issue. Or we’ll have a big problem here, and I don’t anticipate that."
Simon had his third struggle in four starts since the All-Star break. The Reds right hander was one of the true feel-good stories in all MLB before the All-Star break but he took the loss in his fourth straight decision. Simon lasted just five innings and 70 pitches, only half of which were good for strikes, as he equaled his season-high with five earned runs allowed.
Simon had already surpassed his career highs for starts and innings pitched before Monday’s start but he’s not claiming to be tired.
"I left the ball up and I tried to throw a strike and the perfect pitch and they took advantage of that," said Simon. "I feel great. I just got behind the count today and when I tried to throw strikes they took advantage of that."
Simon was doing fine through the first three innings. The Reds were down 1-0 when Chisenhall hit his 11th home run of the season, a 419-foot shot into the shrubbery in straight away center field. Michael Brantley added an RBI single in the fifth inning. In the span of 10 batters, Simon gave up four runs on five hits with two walks.
There was little fight back from the Reds on this night. Kluber retired 11 in a row at one point. The Reds did get a run off of him in the eighth inning, ending a streak of 17 scoreless innings by Kluber. It was the first earned run he allowed in 25 innings.
That was little consolation to the Reds.
"I guess you could say we were lethargic," said third baseman Todd Frazier. "Maybe when (Chisenhall) hit that three-run homer it took the wind out of our sails a little bit, but I know we were battling. We were trying hard. Maybe it was not all there today.
"Games like this you’ve got to go back and the next day you’ve got to figure it out and work together as a hitting team. Together, as a team, our approach has to be better. Lethargic is probably a good word, but it’s just one of those games. We’ve got to come back and focus on getting back to that team game as hitters."