Aug 7, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton (6) is safe at third under Cleveland Indians starting pitcher T.J. House (58) in the first inning at Great American Ball Park.
David Kohl/David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
CINCINNATI — When you are the worst fielding team in the majors and facing baseball’s fastest player, that’s not a combination for success.
For the first three games the Indians were able to avoid being burned by Billy Hamilton. However that wasn’t the case on Thursday as Hamilton’s speed played a role in the Reds’ 4-0 victory over the Indians at Great American Ball Park.
Hamilton led off the game with a single past shortstop Jose Ramirez. With the shift in place, Jay Bruce hit a grounder that Lonnie Chisenhall, who was positioned in shallow left-center, tried to field and throw to first. For Hamilton, that was a perfect chance to try and take third since Chisenhall wasn’t in position at third and pitcher T.J. House was late to the bag. First baseman Carlos Santana had an errant throw that skipped into the stands as Hamilton scored and Bruce took third. Bruce later scored on a Ryan Ludwick single.
"Keeping him (Hamilton) off the bases is huge. He can do a lot of things to disrupt the game as we saw," said manager Terry Francona. "That’s a tough play. You’re trying to throw it across the diamond and hit a guy that’s a moving target and it’s going to be bang-bang. That’s difficult."
"I see him going to third base and they come a little late. It happens, he’s quick," Santana said.
Hamilton also had an RBI triple in the second inning but his speed got the better of him. He tripped up rounding third and by the time he regained his balance, the ball was in the infield and he was caught in a rundown.
The Reds’ rookie also got on base when Santana couldn’t catch a routine popup in the fifth but was picked off first.
House has known about Hamilton for a long time. He never faced him in high school but stories of Hamilton’s quickness were common around Mississippi. The first time House faced Hamilton was in Triple-A during games between Columbus and Louisville.
"He’s a game changer for sure. That’s the guy who is one of the few who can do a lot of things to disrupt the game and create havoc for the whole team," House said.
Every time you think the Indians might have grasped the concept of fielding the ball cleanly, there comes a game like Thursday’s which makes you wonder if Tom Emanski DVD’s need to be handed out. They had their sixth three-error game of the season and now have 89 errors on the year, which leads the majors by nine. The Indians had 98 all of last season. They are on pace for 126, which would be their most since 2003.
For Santana, it was his first two errors in 52 games at first base. Chisenhall had a throwing error in the eighth inning, which was his team-leading 15th of the year.
House, who fell to 1-3, ended up pitching six-plus innings, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
For the Indians, this week has become another version of take one step forward and go two steps back. After winning four straight, the Tribe has dropped their last three as the Reds have possession of the Ohio Cup for the first time since 2010.
After hitting .292 during the winning streak, the Indians have gone 17 for 95 (.179) during the past three games.
The Indians head to New York 3 Â½ games behind the scrum for the final wild card. The Yankees are one of the three teams tied for the final spot.