The defensive miscues continued to fire on all cylinders Monday night as the Cincinnati Reds fell to the Milwaukee Brewers by a final of 5-2 to open the crucial three-game series.
Known through the front 95 games of the year as the premier defensive team in the league, the Reds have watched in horror as the last two contests in particular have gone down as losses directly attributed to the lapses made in the field. There were technically only two errors, but four balls in total that could have easily been listed as so.
Much credit should be given to Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos for the effort put forth on Monday night. Victimized by shotty defense, Latos was still able to go seven innings strong, while throwing 104 pitches before his spot in the order came up. Had the errors not occurred, Latos certainly seemed to have the stuff to pitch even deeper into the ballgame.
Things unraveled quickly in the third inning, when Jean Segura led-off the frame with a triple to the right centerfield gap. In a rush to make a play at third, second baseman Ramon Santiago’s throw coincided with Segura arriving at the bag. The ball would ricochet down the line and into the Milwaukee dugout, awarding the Brewers’ shortstop home and the first run of the game.
Certainly, Wily Peralta’s value to the Milwaukee Brewers is with his throwing arm and not his bat. But the light-hitting pitcher would have a 10-pitch at-bat against Latos, which eventually ended with a line drive base hit into centerfield. Only Latos knows how much the mini-battle affected him, but the Brewers offense was clearly only just beginning to hit at that point.
Coming into Monday night, Ryan Braun was only 2-for-20 against Mat Latos in his career. He would equal that hit total in his first two plate appearances. The first of the errors that wasn’t really an error took place in Braun’s second time to bat when he clubbed a looping line drive to left field in which Chris Heisey broke in on, but realized in horror that the ball had been hit exactly to where he was standing moments ago. The ball would soar over his outstretched arm and rattle up against the scoreboard, scoring two runs, and putting Milwaukee ahead 3-0.
Unfortunately, Heisey’s adventurous afternoon in left was not finished. Used often as a defensive replacement late in contests, Heisey is an extremely adept outfielder–especially in left. With two outs in the fourth inning, he lost Carlos Gomez’s blast in some combination of lights, rafters and sky, as the ball bounced in his vicinity before going over the wall for a run-scoring ground-rule double.
Things continued to go poorly for Latos who got Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett to bounce over to Donald Lutz at first for what seemed to be the inning’s final out. Backhanding the ball, Lutz booted it, and then kicked it, giving the Reds no shot on a play at first that would score Milwaukee’s fifth and final run. Initially, the play was inexplicably ruled a hit, but was eventually reclassified as an error.
For an offense that featured only three starters from the Opening Day lineup (including Zack Cozart, who is only penciled in for his defense), a five-run deficit may have been equivalent to moving a mountain. Billy Hamilton got a run back to lead off the sixth inning with a blast into right centerfield. Skip Schumaker would follow with a double, but nothing would come of the middle of the order having a man in scoring position.
There was a final effort to comeback in the top of the eighth against left-handed reliever Will Smith. Pinch-hitting, Kristopher Negron connected on his second Major League home run to the opposite field, and proceeded to sprint around the bases. Hamilton would follow with a picturesque infield bunt single, but Smith would fan the next three batters to preserve Milwaukee’s lead.
As a sign of encouragement, the Reds’ defense flashed the leather in the bottom of the eighth. Both Hamilton and Cozart made “Web Gem” worthy plays on the tail end of what was a miserable night defensively as a unit. Much in the same, two of the outs recorded by Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth were as loud as any on the night.
Although the Reds dropped the opener, they can end their seven-game road losing streak on Tuesday when Homer Bailey takes to the mound. He will matchup against Jimmy Nelson of the Brewers as the game gets underway at 8:10 p.m.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds