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Poor defense, baserunning sink Reds in finale

Four-run rally in 7th cut short after Casali thrown out at home plate
August 1, 2018

DETROIT -- Since he became Reds interim manager in April, Jim Riggleman has made attention to detail a big part of his daily message to the players. At times throughout the season, Riggleman has organized drills that focus on fundamentals from baserunning, to cutoff throws, covering bases and more.So it

DETROIT -- Since he became Reds interim manager in April, Jim Riggleman has made attention to detail a big part of his daily message to the players. At times throughout the season, Riggleman has organized drills that focus on fundamentals from baserunning, to cutoff throws, covering bases and more.
So it wasn't hard to see the disappointment Riggleman felt following a 7-4 Reds loss to the Tigers that completed Detroit's two-game series sweep. Numerous mistakes befuddled Cincinnati defensively and on the bases at Comerica Park.
"When you play like that, you're not supposed to win," Riggleman said. "It's not bad effort, it's bad performance. We just have to somehow find a way to clean it up. It was very sloppy."

Some of the mistakes included:
• Left fielder Phillip Ervin twice missed the cutoff man on hits and it cost the Reds two runs.
• A relay throw from shortstop Jose Peraza one-hopped over catcher Curt Casali's head for another run.
• Casali ran into a double play during a four-run rally in the seventh inning.
"That's the difference between a good club and a really good club," Casali said. "You see a lot of the teams that are at the top of the division not making mistakes like that. It's not that we're trying to mess it up. It's kind of how the ball rolls sometimes."
The Reds are missing three-fourths of the four-man outfield rotation they've utilized most of 2018 -- two of them for the rest of the season since Adam Duvall was traded to the Braves on Monday and Jesse Winker had season-ending shoulder surgery on Tuesday. Scott Schebler remains on the disabled list for the short term because of a shoulder injury.
Missing all three has certainly not helped offensively, especially with the lineup lacking the hot bats that belonged to Schebler and Winker. Defensively, Duvall's Gold Glove caliber play was not taken for granted. Outfield defense loomed large on Wednesday.
With runners on the corners and one out in the second inning, Jose Iglesias hit a double into left field. Ervin overthrew the cutoff before the ball got to Eugenio Suarez. That led to Jim Adduci being aggressive and trying to score from first base. Suarez ended up rushing a bad throw to the plate that got away as the run scored, with an error charged to the third baseman for Iglesias taking an extra base.
In the three-run Detroit sixth, pinch-hitter Ronny Rodriguez hit a double to left field. After getting the cutoff throw from Ervin by the foul line, Peraza's throw home bounced in front of the plate and sailed over Casali's head as John Hicks scored.
"It was weird. Normally the soft ones, the ball stays down. That one just shot over my head," Casali said.
Iglesias scored the inning's third run on JaCoby Jones' single after Ervin threw the ball over the head of cutoff man Scooter Gennett. It went near the visitor's dugout for an error and made it a 6-0 game.
"Pretty much, I just got lazy with my feet, tried to baby a throw and it just got away from me. It's inexcusable," Ervin said. "I guess things happen, I just have to be better."
Despite the mistakes behind him, Reds starter Sal Romano kept the team in the game as he pitched 5 1/3 innings with four earned runs and eight hits allowed. Romano did not walk a batter and struck out three.

"[Romano] missed a lot of barrels today," Casali said. "The ones he missed ended up dropping. Defensively, we just weren't good enough today."
The Reds scored four runs on the Tigers' bullpen in the seventh inning after the first six batters reached on hits. But things were derailed when Peraza grounded out to first base. Casali at first hesitated, but then he attempted to score and ran into a double play.
"It was just not a great baserunning play on my part. The hesitation cost me," Casali said. "If I could go back, I wish I just stayed. Then we have first and third with one out and Scooter coming up. Kind of a rally killer on my part. That's on me."
Poor baserunning also hurt the Reds during Tuesday's 2-1 loss. Joey Votto hit a double with Ervin on second base, who didn't go halfway to third base before the ball landed, and he couldn't score on the play.
"I just need to have a little more focus, pay a little more attention and get the job done," Ervin said.
Riggleman, who has a 45-45 record since taking over and has overseen an improvement, did not single out any players for their individual mistakes.
"We haven't successfully handled the rundowns well," he said. "We haven't handled cutoffs and relays well, we've had baserunning mistakes and we're still ... that's my point to the club -- look where we are with all of that. Look where we could be if we clean that up."
Riggleman and the coaching staff will consider more scheduled drills before games, time and weather permitting. But in a very positive sign, veteran players weren't waiting to offer advice to younger players like Ervin. Jared Hughes, Billy Hamilton and Gennett were among those to take him aside to talk about how to do better.
"I love this group of guys. I feel like everybody was talking," Ervin said. "I feel like everybody was positive. They aren't jumping down your throat when you do mess up. It makes it a little easier to not panic and put pressure on yourself."
Rally in the seventh: The Tigers' bullpen, which picked up starter Mike Fiers when he exited after the second inning with a left shin bruise, finally cracked in the top of the seventh. After Preston Tucker hit a bases-loaded, RBI single for the first run, Casali added a two-run double against Alex Wilson.

When Hamilton stole second base in the third inning, it was his first steal -- or attempted steal -- since July 9. The span of 15 games was his longest gap without a steal attempt.

"It was my first time catching him, I was trying to get acclimated really quick. But he was pounding the strike zone and doing everything he could to keep us in that ballgame. He threw well." -- Casali, on Romano's performance
In the eighth inning, after Votto led off with a walk, Suarez hit a ball into center field. It would have been a hit but Votto was thrown out at second base on the force play because he held up waiting to see if Jones would catch the ball. It went as a fielder's choice. The Reds challenged the call on the field, but replay officials confirmed the out call.

Riggleman will be returning to Washington for the first time as an opposing manager when the Reds meet the Nationals at 7:05 p.m. ET Thursday for the first game of a four-game series. Riggleman managed the Nationals from 2009-11, but he resigned amid a contract dispute. Tyler Mahle will make the start for Cincinnati against Washington ace Max Scherzer. Mahle is is coming off the shortest start of his career -- one inning in a 9-4 loss to the Phillies last Thursday. He has 14 earned runs and 20 hits over his last nine innings in three starts.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.