Giveaway night: Reds commit four errors
The Reds lead disappeared in the seventh inning at 100 mph.
Cincinnati became unglued in Game 2 of the NL division series against the Philadelphia Phillies — with Aroldis Chapman on the mound. The rookie was called upon to preserve a one-run lead with his triple-digit fastball and send the Reds back to Cincinnati with the best-of-five series tied.
Instead, they go back trying to stave off elimination.
Right fielder Jay Bruce missed a catchable line drive that led to the Phillies scoring the go-ahead runs in the seventh inning and rallying to beat the Reds 7-4 on Friday night.
"It was the lights," Bruce said. "I know they’re exceptionally bright. Other than that, I’ve never had another ball get lost in them. They’re great lights as long as the ball’s not in them."
Bruce made the biggest miscue in a game stocked with them — six errors combined — but he wasn’t alone in the fielding follies. Chapman hit a batter, second baseman Brandon Phillips botched a relay throw and third baseman Scott Rolen got caught in a thorny fielding play that showed this Reds machine needs a tune-up.
The Phillies fans serenaded Bruce with singsong chants of "Thank you, Jay Bruce!" They stood and gave him mock cheers when he had a putout in the eighth.
Reds fans had different phrases in mind.
Bruce accepted full responsibility for the lapse and was the first Red in the locker room to answer questions.
"It’s embarrassing. I take a lot of pride in my defense," Bruce said.
It was that bad of a late-game breakdown that saw the lead crumble faster than Chapman’s fastball.
Chapman, the 22-year-old Cuban lefty, couldn’t help the Reds with his 100 mph heater. He grazed Chase Utley with a pitch to open the inning, though replays were unclear if the ball actually hit the Phillies star.
He recovered to fan Ryan Howard on three swings — fastballs at 100-99-101 mph.
At that point, the Phillies only had one more hit against the Reds (4) than times hit-by-pitch (3).
Then the gaffes piled up.
Jayson Werth hit a tough, in-between hop to Rolen that the seven-time third baseman threw to second instead of taking the easy out at first. His gamble backfired as Utley was called safe on a close call and Reds manager Dusty Baker came out for a brief argument.
Jimmy Rollins hit the first 100 mph pitch he saw right at Bruce. Bruce said he lost the ball in the lights — not the backdrop of 40,000 fans waving white rally towels — and the ball sailed past his glove hand. Utley scored the tying run and Werth busted home, too, when Phillips dropped the relay throw for an error.
Bruce was the late-season hero after his ninth inning homer brought Cincinnati its first NL Central title since 1995 with a 3-2 win over the Houston Astros on Sept. 28.
The Reds finished second in the NL with a club-record .988 fielding percentage. But they committed two errors in the seventh, and Rolen and Phillips each made errors in the fifth.
More signs of what a complete defensive breakdown the game was: Phillips made only three errors all season.
Chapman took the loss while the pitcher he called his hero growing up in Cuba, Jose Contreras, earned the win.
Notes: Polanco returned to the lineup after missing the opener with a sore back. … Phillips had never hit a leadoff homer. … The Phillies have sold out 133 straight games, including the playoffs. … Rollins batted sixth and Victorino led off. It was the first time in 34 career playoff games that Rollins didn’t bat first. … Reds SS Orlando Cabrera left after four innings. He aggravated his left side turning a double play.