Elly De La Cruz's defensive bravado costs Reds dearly in one-run loss to Cardinals

It never feels good to lose to the Cardinals, but a perceived defensive blunder by Elly De La Cruz made things even worse

Cincinnati Reds  v St. Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals / Scott Kane/GettyImages

One of the hardest things to learn in the game of baseball is to put one's pride aside and make smart decisions in the moment. All of these guys in the big leagues are talented players who want to save the day, but the ability to make smart baseball plays - even if it means yielding to another teammate - is a critical skill every player just has to learn. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Reds had to find that out the hard way in their 1-0 loss to the Cardinals on Friday.

In the bottom of the third inning, the Cardinals' Alec Burleson hit a pop up into shallow center field. Now, ignoring the fact that there was a real argument for this to be ruled an infield fly (as stupid as that rule is in practice), Elly De La Cruz went back on the ball and caught it over his shoulder instead of letting center fielder Stuart Fairchild handle it with momentum pulling him towards the plate. The Cardinals had a speedy runner on third who tagged up, and De La Cruz being turned around led to an off-line throw home. St. Louis earned what was the game-winning run in a 1-0 squeaker.

De La Cruz's defensive miscue the difference in Reds' loss vs. Cardinals

In fairness to De La Cruz, he isn't the reason the Reds lost this game against the Cardinals. They lost because the offense outside of Jonathan India took the night off. If you get beat 1-0, that is on the offense, regardless of how that lone run scored.

The decision De La Cruz made isn't a black and white issue, either. As that ball is in flight, it appears to carry more than anyone expected, and it was a hard angle for him to see who was coming in on the ball. Besides, making sure the ball is caught is the most important thing in that situation. Moreover, Fairchild's arm in center is actually pretty bad versus the cannon that De La Cruz has. If he lets Fairchild catch that ball, there is no guarantee the runner doesn't go anyways, and there is certainly no guarantee that the throw home gets him.

Still, it probably wasn't the ideal move to make in that situation, and it represents a long track record of De La Cruz trying to do too much in the field and paying for it. Unfortunately, De La Cruz knows how much pure talent he has, and that means he tries to make plays he shouldn't. That sometimes leads to spectacular plays, and De La Cruz is a great defender on the whole, but the boneheaded plays that come with that package can be tough to swallow.

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