We now know why “mental” is part of the word. Three fundamental plays were the difference in the Reds 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals last night. Two were not executed by the Reds while the third was performed to the tee by the Cards. Two occurred on the same at-bat.

Top of the 4th with one out. Scott Rolen draws a walk and Jonny Gomes at the plate. Gomes sent a blast to deep left center field. The ball bounced off the top of the fence to Cards left fielder Matt Holliday. Holliday threw a pea to cutoff man Brendan Ryan. Ryan, in turn, hits another cutoff man in Albert Pujols. Rolen had already scored at this point and Gomes is going to third. Pujols to Pedro Feliz and Gomes is out. Not even close. The play was right in front of Gomes. He simply ran into an out, at third base only magnifies the matter. What makes the situation even worse is that Ryan Hanigan followed with a single. The game would have been tied at 3-3.

Dusty Baker addressed the baserunning blunder on John Fay’s blog.

“Its something we talk about everyday,” Baker said. “When the ball is in front of you, you dont really need a coach. You’ve got to read ball. Sometimes you’re too aggressive. There are times when you do it. If there are two outs, you want to draw the throw on the cutoff. With one out, you’re already in scoring position.“We want to be aggressive, but we want to be smart.”

The Cards executed fundamentals…the Reds didn’t.

To the 7th. Chris Heisey, who was again starting in right field for the injured Jay Bruce, leads off with a double. What’s the play? Bunt him to third. Paul Janish failed to do so. Not once, but twice. To compound this even more was that Janish watched strike three. Heisey was still standing on second. Janish knew of his flaws in the at-bat.

Miguel Cairo would follow to pinch-hit for Reds starter Bronson Arroyo. Cairo sharply hit a Jaime Garcia pitch up the middle which Ryan stopped. Heisey was able to advance to third on the play. If Janish gets the bunt down to advance Heisey, one of two things happen in Cairo’s at-bat. Depends on your own personal theory on how to manage the situation as to what you do.

1. Cards manager Tony LaRussa brings the infield in and Cairo, instead of grounding out to Ryan, gets a single. Yes, the ball most likely makes it through a drawn-in infield. A bit more of a risk in allowing a base hit.
2. LaRussa plays the infield back and concedes the run. The Cards are at home. Play to win on the road, tie at home. More of a fan of this move, although the Cards hadn’t produced any offense since the 2nd inning. After those first two innings, Arroyo allowed only two hits for the remainder of his outing. The bullpen was perfect.

The Cards executed fundamentals…the Reds didn’t. That was the game.

Side note here. In a game that was sort of being billed as a “Votto v. Pujols” affair, neither MVP candidate really did much. Votto was 0-3 with a walk. Pujols was 0-3 with a sac fly good for an RBI.

Today’s game is a Fox national telecast and will be at 4:00 PM.