Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Roark consoles Puig after decisive play

Outfielder's error in fifth inning allows go-ahead run to score
@m_sheldon
April 24, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Yasiel Puig knew he messed up, and Tanner Roark knew it, too. But the Reds’ starting pitcher didn’t rub his right fielder’s face in the mistake following an error that scored the go-ahead run in a 3-1 defeat to the Braves on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.

CINCINNATI -- Yasiel Puig knew he messed up, and Tanner Roark knew it, too. But the Reds’ starting pitcher didn’t rub his right fielder’s face in the mistake following an error that scored the go-ahead run in a 3-1 defeat to the Braves on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.

“I will never be mad at someone that tries to dive and catch a ball,” Roark said. “If the guy scores an inside-the-parker, I don’t care. I love the effort. I’ll always praise the people that go out and try to do that for me and for his team.”

In the top of the fifth inning of a 1-1 game with Ronald Acuna Jr. on first base and one out, Nick Markakis hit a low line drive to right field. Playing deep, Puig ran in on the ball but found himself caught between wanting to make a diving catch attempt or playing it on the hop. Then the worst-case scenario happened: The ball got past Puig and rolled to the wall, easily scoring Acuna and allowing Markakis to reach third base as center fielder Phillip Ervin retrieved the ball.

The official scorer ruled it a single and two-base error on Puig.

“I tried to catch the ball and at the last point, I missed the ball,” Puig explained. “I wanted to dive for the ball and make the catch. I see it’s a little bit far away. I tried to stop and get it on the bounce and throw it to second base, but I missed the ball. I never touched the ball. The guy scored and the other one ran to third base. I feel bad because it’s one run for the team and Roark was pitching pretty good. Later, he needed to do a little bit more [work] to try to make the other two outs and not get a fly ball to score the other one.”

Roark did record the final two outs to strand Markakis, then walked off and waited near the bottom step of the far side of the dugout for Puig.

In a moment that showed Roark’s veteran experience, he stopped a clearly disappointed Puig and put his hand on his side before saying a few words of encouragement with a pat on the shoulder.

“I said, ‘I’ll never be mad at you for something like that,’” said Roark, who gave up two runs (one earned) on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts over five innings. “‘You tried to catch the ball and bust your [butt] trying to get there, and it didn’t work out. I love it.'”

Puig returned a pat of the shoulder to Roark and headed for the tunnel to collect himself.

“I feel pretty good when he told me that,” Puig said.

“I did not see that, but it does not surprise me at all,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Tanner is a great teammate. He’s a professional. That means a lot. There’s a lot of that going on, on our team. Because of that, we’re going to have a lot of success and they’re going to enjoy it a lot. Yasiel made an aggressive attempt there and it didn’t work out. He also has made some really great plays. In the end, that’s what it’s all about to be a teammate. It’s great to hear.”

Puig, who has struggled offensively this season while batting .200/.215/.360 with three home runs, has taken some solace in his defensive effort. Although the Reds' outfield group as a whole ranks poorly in advanced metrics so far in 2019, Puig has made some nifty plays and used his strong arm for great throws that have prevented runs from scoring.

When Dansby Swanson led off the fourth, Puig took away a hit with a nice running catch toward the right-field line. But he acknowledged there have been issues on balls lined right to him at GABP.

“It’s been difficult to me the last seven years to catch line drives in this ballpark. I can see there is a big, pretty, sexy building ... right there,” Puig said of Great American Tower, the skyscraper that looms behind the stadium in his line of sight. “Between the building and the line drive, sometimes I miss the ball, pretty much, in day games.”

The Reds are off to a 9-14 start to the season but have been in most games, with 10 of their losses by two runs or fewer. That turns nearly every play into a critical moment, even one like Puig’s mistake in the fifth inning.

That’s especially the case when the Reds' only run came on Jesse Winker’s RBI single off Braves starter Mike Soroka in the first inning.

“We lose this one, I made the error,” Puig said. “We lose the game because of me or whatever, but tomorrow is a different day. We are going to win and try to play better.”

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