Reds news: Tyler Mahle’s brilliance spoiled by defensive buffoonery

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 14: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 14: Tyler Mahle #30 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

When it was announced that Eugenio Suárez was taking over shortstop duties for the Cincinnati Reds, the immediate thought that came to mind was how would the 29-year-old handle the position defensively. While Suárez wasn’t the only player at fault, defensive miscues in the fifth inning spoiled Tyler Mahle‘s brilliant performance.

I think Reds fans can except a certain amount of errors over the course of a season, but Suárez’s four errors are second to only Fernando Tatis Jr. (5) so far in 2021. As a team, Cincinnati has seven errors on the season.

The Reds did not commit an error during yesterday’s game.

The interesting thing in discussing the Cincinnati Reds defensive miscues, is that not a single player was charged with an error during yesterday’s game versus the San Francisco Giants. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

In the fifth inning, with a man on first base, a harmless looping fly ball was misplayed by Suárez. Thankfully the runner was held up and Geno flipped the ball to Jonathan India at second base to keep only one runner on the base paths.

Later that inning, after an RBI double by Giants’ outfielder Austin Slater made the score 1-0, Tyler Stephenson lost track of Mahle’s pitch to former Reds’ catcher Curt Casali, allowing Slater to reach third base.

The next pitch was smacked to shortstop, and instead of fielding the ball and taking the sure out at first base, Suárez threw home. Austin Slater isn’t a burner, but he’s no slouch on the base paths either. Suárez’s throw was late and Casali reached first base safely. The Reds now trailed 2-0 with just one out.

A sacrifice bunt by Johnny Cueto bumped Casali up to second base, and were it not for instant replay overturning the play at the plate, Tommy LaStella’s single would’ve scored Casali and given the Giants a 3-0 lead. Thankfully, MLB’s Replay Center in New York got the call right and the Reds escaped with just a two-runs deficit.

Tyler Mahle was excellent in his third start for the Reds this season.

Tyler Mahle had a no-hitter heading into the fifth inning, and then the wheels came off. However, Mahle was only charged with the one earned run because of the fielder’s choice that failed to yield an out. Mahle went five innings, allowed just the one run, and struck out seven batters. He was pulled in favor of Sean Doolittle in the top of the sixth inning.

It’s early, and I know that Eugenio Suárez is adjusting to the new position, but those types of defensive mistakes that lead to runs are costly. Jonathan India dropped a fly ball in the bottom of the eighth inning that was ruled a hit. In no way was that a hit, and India would certainly tell you that the fly ball he booted is one he has to catch. That “hit” allowed an insurance run to put the Giants up 3-0.

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Defense was problem last season for the Reds. While their 27 errors were the best in the National League, Cincinnati’s -15 Total Fielding Runs Above Average (Rtot) was fifth worst in the league. Fans are willing to sacrifice defense for offense, but when the Reds fail to dent home plate, this team isn’t going to be good enough defensively to offset the offensive shortcomings.