Reds miss opportunities in extra-innings loss
CINCINNATI -- The scorebook says Cincinnati lost to Washington, 7-6, in 11 innings on Saturday at Great American Ball Park.
Solo home runs by Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos -- his second homer of the game -- off of J.J. Hoover were the difference, after the opportunistic Reds came back from a four-run deficit to forge a 5-5 tie and send the game to extra innings.
Dusty Baker doesn't see the result the same way. The Reds' manager believes his club lost the game long before the 11th by wasting several scoring opportunities in the early innings.
"We had a chance to win that game several times," said Baker, who watched his team go a combined 4-for-17 (.235) with runners in scoring position and leave 11 men on base. "We've got to come up with the big hit. I guess turnabout's fair play."
The Nationals committed three errors, leading to two unearned runs, and Joey Votto scored the tying run in the ninth inning on Rafael Soriano's wild pitch. But that wasn't enough to overcome the Reds' inability to hit in the clutch. That problem also plagued the Reds in their other loss, a 3-1 defeat in 13 innings to the Angels on Opening Day. Cincinnati went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base in that game.
Cincinnati's two opponents now have combined to commit 11 errors on the season. The Reds have been charged with just two.
The Reds -- who hit six homers in a 15-0 rout of the Nationals on Friday, including two each by Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart -- had runners on base in each of the first six innings against Washington starter Ross Detwiler, including the first two batters in both the third and fifth innings. But Votto and Brandon Phillips ended those frames by grounding into double plays.
That made starter Mike Leake's job more difficult. The right-hander, handed the fifth spot in the rotation after Cincinnati abandoned its Spring Training experiment with Aroldis Chapman as a starter, gave up four runs over six innings on two-run homers by Bryce Harper and Ramos.
"Leake threw well, except for the two two-run homers -- especially the second one," Baker said. "We could have pitched around Ramos there, because they had nobody loose and the pitcher would have had to hit.
"They've got a lineup similar to ours," Baker added. "Up and down the lineup, they've got guys who can hit it out. I'm sure they were saying the same thing about our lineup yesterday with Frazier and Cozart."
Harper's shot in the third was the first homer allowed by the Reds in 22 innings, since Angels third baseman Alberto Callaspo connected in the seventh inning on Wednesday.
The Reds capitalized on Desmond's throwing error in the fourth to get on the board, but Ramos gave Washington a 4-1 lead with his two-run homer in the sixth. Jayson Werth made it 5-1 with a leadoff homer in the seventh, setting the stage for Cincinnati's comeback, which didn't surprise Baker.
"I'm not worried about [resiliency]," Baker said. "Resiliency is our middle name."
The Reds scored two in the eighth and two more in the ninth, which started with Shin Soo-Choo's third home run of the season -- one each in the last three games. Votto almost hit his first since last June 24, before settling for a triple high off the left-field wall, leaving him in place to score the tying run.
The score stayed tied until Desmond and Ramos connected in the 11th against Hoover, who was pitching for the fourth time in six days while the Reds continue to deal with the absence of left-hander Sean Marshall, who is sidelined by what he has described as fatigue in his shoulder.
"I hung a slider to Desmond," Hoover said. "I felt like he knew it was coming, and he got it. With Ramos, I executed the pitch. He just got it."
"I was trying to figure it out," said Desmond, who committed two errors. "I was trying to get it together. My heart started beating a little bit. I had to stop thinking so much. I was trying to get the barrel on the ball. I don't know why [I made the two errors]. Obviously, I'm doing the same thing that I'm doing last year after a little shaky start."
"We were hoping to get through that inning and get around to the top of our order," Baker said.
Hoover (0-2) has gotten the decision in both of the Reds' losses.
"I'd rather get them out of the way now," said Hoover, "and move on to the rest of the season."