Reds struggle offensively against Cardinals
Cincinnati leaves six on base, but manager not looking to change lineup
CINCINNATI -- Late-inning heroics and winning the close battles has been the early-season identity for the Cincinnati Reds, but when the bats go cold, it is hard to muster up enough runs to come out on top.
The Reds managed to record six hits, but none except Todd Frazier's first inning home run were timely as they dropped their first game of the season, 4-1, to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday afternoon.
After Frazier's home run, Cardinals starter Michael Wacha settled into a groove to hold the Reds' bats at bay when it counted.
Zack Cozart, who has struggled at the plate this season, led off the third inning with a single. Two outs later, he stood at third, where he was stranded.
It was a theme that Cincinnati could not break.
"They were aggressive early in the count," Wacha said. "I was throwing my pitches down in the zone and getting them to make weak contact at times."
Runners were also stranded at third during the fourth, fifth and eighth innings.
"It was just one of those days. We are not worried about it," Cozart said. "We have been playing well and have competed, and at the end of the day, when you are competing, good things are going to happen more often than not."
Wacha had command of his pitches, and Reds manager Bryan Price likened his performance Saturday to how he pitched against Cincinnati in the past.
Cincinnati finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left six on base, five of which were on second or third.
Cozart joined Frazier as the bright spots for the Reds' offense today, each collecting a pair of hits.
"Even though I was hitting below .100, I felt like I was hitting the ball good. Today they just fell in," Cozart said. "Today, I hit the ball the best my last at-bat and got out. That is just baseball."
The fifth-year shortstop received backing from his manager, who said he felt he has given the Reds quality at-bats despite the last of statistical backing.
Despite early-season struggles by the bottom portion of the order, Price is pleased with his lineup and sees no reason to tinker with what has led to a successful start to the season.
"When you look up and down, you don't have teams one through nine, one through eight hitting .350 or better," he said. "We have a nice offensive club, and I am not looking to change the lineup."
Price quickly added that he planned on getting some of his bench players some action in an effort to keep them fresh and keep their swings intact, but it was not a reflection on how the starters were performing.
"We put some good swings on [Wacha] early," Price said. "We just needed to string some things together or have him walk some guys or have them make some mistakes in order to score, and it just did not happen."