CINCINNATI — For most of this season, Todd Frazier’s song when he walked toward the batter’s box has been Frank Sinatra’s ‘Fly Me to the Moon.’ But in recent times, during a seven-game losing streak, it should have been ‘Moon River,’ because the Cincinnati Reds were up the river without a paddle.
So on Saturday afternoon Frazier changed his tune. It was still Frank Sinatra, but the song was, ‘The Best Is Yet to Come.’
It worked. The Reds shed their seven-game losing streak, thanks to Johnny Cueto’s finely tuned pitching in a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.
And does Frazier believe that the best is yet to come for him and the Reds? You bet your sweet rosin bag he does.
"Yes, I do," said the Reds third baseman. "I really do. It has been hard, man. We still have two months left and for the rest of the year you win at all costs, no matter how you do it. That’s what you are here to do is win."
Nobody was jumping in the air and clicking cleats after the win to break the losing streak because, after all, the Reds scored only one run and remain in a funkadelic hitting slump during which they’ve gone eight straight games without once getting 10 men on base or scoring more than three runs.
"We’ll take a 1-0 win every day of the week if we need to do that," said Frazier. "We all have to be as confident as we can. We get our early work in and go after ’em. I remember once when I was 0 for 34 in one stretch. And I worked and worked until I said, ‘What more can I possibly do?’ I did different drills and nothing worked."
Frazier said there is more to it than work, work, work and drill, drill, drill.
"It’s all a mindset with what’s going on right now," he said. "It’s our mindset. We’re putting a little more pressure on each other and on ourselves."
Frazier didn’t play with former Reds infielder/outfielder Ryan Freel, who once said, "I have a guy on my shoulder who talks to me all the time. His name is Farney."
Frazier doesn’t envision a leprechaun sitting on his shoulder, but he says baseball players do hear voices, especially when their world is collapsing around their batting helmets.
"When things aren’t going right, all of a sudden you have that little guy talking to you saying, ‘OK, we have a runner on second. Ya gotta get him in, gotta get him in.’ Instead, you should be thinking, ‘Ah, runner on second. OK, ah, come on, bring it. Let’s see what you’ve got.’"
Frazier said the pressure voice is what the team has heard since the All-Star break.
"It happens every year, it happens to everybody and it has been happening to us the last seven or eight games," he said. "It seems like a lot longer than seven or eight games and you certainly feel it, you really do."
Frazier said the circumstances puts pressure on everybody and, "You want to be that guy that puts us over the hump. Brayan Pena (a single to drive in the game’s only run) was that guy Saturday and hopefully we can pick up on that little saying that hitting is contagious."
And that word, urgency, came up again. Late last season when the Reds were playing the Pittsburgh Pirates for the wild card home field advantage former manager Dusty Baker was asked if there was a sense of urgency on the team. He said no and the howls of angst could be heard all the way from Rabbit Hatch, Ky.
Frazier was asked if the team, six games back and in fourth place prior to Sunday’s game, felt a sense of urgency.
"Playing with urgency is needed from Day One," he said. "You need it throughout the year. You always hear when the season is young that, ‘It’s early,’ but every game has its urgency.
"We’ve been swept in four series," he said. "If we win one of those games when we got swept, we’re not looking at six games back, we’re looking at two or maybe first in the wild card."
"It’s a fine line," said Frazier. "Pressure is always there. A guy told me in high school, ‘Adversity causes some to break and others to break records.’ I struggled for three or four games in high school (Toms River, N.J.) and I thought it was the end of the world, but that quote took the pressure off me."
Keeping the faith and keeping the thought process positive is difficult during a seven-game losing streak and Frazier, "Man, coming into the clubhouse felt like a morgue, if you want the truth, for lack of better words. The thing is, everybody is trying, everybody is working their tail off. We see it before the game and we see it after the game.
"Everybody talks about situations like, ‘What could I have done better,’" Frazier added. "We have a good group with some outstanding veterans like Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker, guys who have been around, and they tell us, ‘Don’t worry. We’re coming around. Keep trying.’ And that’s what we’ve been doing."
Despite the seven-game losing streak, the Reds only lost 4 Â½ games to the Milwaukee Brewers and reamin close to second place St. Louis and third place Pittsburgh.
"Surprised about that? Yeah, I am," said Frazier. "With the situation we’ve been through, I couldn’t be happier, if that makes sense. There is a long way to go, but every game counts, every day is a chance to gain ground."