No sugarcoating, excuses from Price as Reds offensive woes continue
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos adjusts his hat after giving up a hit to Washington Nationals' Adam LaRoche that drove in two runs in the fifth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Cincinnati.
CINCINNATI — There was no way to for Bryan Price to sugarcoat Sunday’s 4-2 loss by the Reds to the Washington Nationals, so the manager didn’t try.
"What it came down to is we’re not scoring any runs," said Price.
That pretty much says it all. It says everything about the Reds, who have lost eight of their nine games since the All-Star break.
The Reds have scored just 16 runs in those nine games, the lowest total in the majors. They scored just four while losing two-of-three games against Washington.
"We scored four runs in this series, we didn’t do too much in New York or Milwaukee and we’ve got to better at that," said Price. "We just have to be better in a lot of facets of our game right now but we’ve got to get our guys feeling good about what they’re doing offensively. We had a real good approach going into the break and it hasn’t been quite as good. Guys care. It matters to these guys. They’re not going through the motions. We just don’t have a lot to show for the effort."
The Reds entered Sunday’s game hitting .083 with runners in scoring position since the All-Star break. They didn’t get a chance to change that stat through the first eight innings Sunday as none of the five base runners they managed to get off of Nationals starter Doug Fister and set-up reliever Tyler Clippard made it second base.
Todd Frazier singled with two outs in the first inning. Donald Lutz walked with two outs in the second inning. Fister then retired the next 12 batters in a row before Skip Schumaker singled in the sixth inning with one out. Devin Mesoraco singled in the seventh and Brayan Pena did the same in the eighth off of Clippard but to no avail.
There was life in ninth when Frazier and Jay Bruce began the inning with singles off reliever Aaron Barrett. Mesoraco followed with a two-run double off of Nationals closer Rafael Soriano but Soriano retired Jack Hannahan, Lutz and Chris Heisey to squash the rally attempt.
Reds starter Mat Latos didn’t allow a hit until Danny Espinosa led off the fifth inning with a single to center field. One out later, Fister sacrificed Espinosa to second. That situation turned into three runs as Latos proceeded to walk Denard Span and hit Anthony Rendon with a pitch to load the bases. He walked Jayson Werth after being ahead in the count 0-2 and then gave up a two-run single to Adam LaRoche before getting Ian Desmond to fly out to deep center field.
Latos wasn’t happy with the consistency of the strike zone home plate umpire Toby Basner called and let Basner know it as he went to the dugout after the inning.
It symbolized the frustration the Reds have been feeling the last nine games. Three runs shouldn’t automatically be an insurmountable deficit but that’s the sense these days. The offense has reverted to its form from the first couple of months of the season. It wasn’t until the last homestand that the Reds had overcome a deficit of more than two runs to win a game.
Price made mention to reporters gathered for their daily pre-game meeting of how many games the Reds have needed out of players who at the beginning of the season were expected to be in backup or platoon roles. He didn’t bring it up as an excuse but simply a matter of fact.
After the game, Price said he’s got faith in all of those players because they’re the same ones who played so well when the Reds won 26 of 42 games and went 10-2-1 in their previous 13 series before the All-Star break. They’ve now lost three series in a row, the most since losing the first four series of the season.
"We’re running guys out there that have historically been good players," said Price. "They have the ability to really serve us and they did. And they have. We’re not sputtering because our bench players are playing too much; we’re sputtering because nobody is swinging the bat like they’re capable of swinging the bat. It doesn’t matter who we’re running out there, we’re just not getting the offensive production that we know these guys are capable of."
It’s the same message Price preached during the first two months of the season. The manager isn’t into sugarcoating matters.
"We know these guys are better hitters, are better players than we’ve seen," said Price. "We saw it for six straight weeks in June and July and (now) we’ve kind of fallen back to that first third of the season feel to our offense. In my role I have to focus on what I know we’re capable of doing, which is what we saw in June and the first half of July.
"The more important thing is the guys in the other room believe that and know that and don’t try to do more than they’re capable of doing."