Cincinnati Reds: Base running blunders cannot happen again

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 25: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - MARCH 25: Tyler Stephenson #37 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Despite the five-run disparity on the scoreboard that makes yesterday’s game look more lopsided than it actually was, there’s a lot of positives to take away from the Cincinnati Reds‘ Opening Day defeat at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals. But, the one thing that cannot happen again is a careless base running blunder.

For the record, I love Tyler Stephenson and what he brings to the table. The team’s top catching prospect has the potential to lockdown the position behind the plate for years to come. But, he can’t make that base running mistake we saw on Thursday afternoon.

Tyler Stephenson’s base running blunder squashed the Reds rally.

The Reds fell behind early following an uncharacteristically terrible start from right-hander Luis Castillo. But, the team rallied behind the bats of Jonathan India, Jesse Winker, Nick Castellanos, and Eugenio Suarez, trimming the lead from 6-0 to 7-3 to 11-6.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Reds really seemed to be building momentum. After India reached on a single, pinch hitter Alex Blandino went down on strikes. However, Tyler Stephenson stepped up with a single of his own and Winker’s hit to right field loaded the bases for Castellanos.

The hulking right-hander ripped ball to left field, but a nice jump by Cardinals’ outfielder Tyler O’Neill kept Castellanos from clearing the bases. Not only that, but a base running blunder by Stephenson allowed St. Louis to get out the inning unscathed.

Call it a mental error, a rookie mistake, or a TOOTBLAN (Thrown Out on the Bases Like a Nincompoop), but whatever you call it, it cannot happen again. We’ve seen it too many times, and it has to end in Game 1. There are 161 more games this season, and Cincinnati cannot afford base running mistakes.

This was not an error on behalf of Reds’ third base coach J.R. House.

First, let’s not blame the Reds third base coach, J.R. House. He had his eye on the ball and was sending Jonathan India home on the catch. This error was all on Tyler Stephenson. Did the rookie think there were two outs? Maybe. But regardless, this was on the player, not the coach.

Upon the ball being hit, Stephenson trotted to third base where India was standing ready to advance home. The Reds catcher was doubled up before India crossed the plate, taking a run off the board and killing any chance Cincinnati had to rally in the sixth inning.

Had Stephenson stayed put, he’d be standing at second base, Jesse Winker would be on first, Joey Votto would be at the dish with two outs and the score of 11-7. Instead, Cincinnati entered the top of there seventh inning trailing 11-6 and never sniffed another chance to get back in it.

Next. 3 overreactions to CIN's Opening Day loss

This year’s Cincinnati Reds team cannot afford to have mental errors. It was just the first game of a long season, and this is Stephenson’s first meaningful time in the bigs, so we’ll give him a pass for now. But going forward, these types of mistakes cannot happen.