Reds burned but not deterred by bold baserunning

June 23rd, 2024

CINCINNATI -- The Reds are usually aggressive on the bases and emphasize their speed. While making that omelet through this season, they've been willing to break a few eggs.

But during Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Red Sox at Great American Ball Park, running issues and outs on the bases only left Cincinnati with the feeling of egg on its face.

“The baserunning is a strength of our team," Reds manager David Bell said. "I know we haven’t been perfect. We’ve made outs on the bases. We’ve won a lot of games with our baserunning. When it doesn’t go our way, we have to find ways to get better.”

A two-run home run by Spencer Steer in the first inning and a solo homer in the third inning by Elly De La Cruz gave the Reds a 3-0 lead. As Boston scored four unanswered runs to win, three plays on the bases prevented critical insurance runs from scoring. It helped send the Reds to their 14th one-run loss of the season.

With one out in the bottom of the fifth with a 3-1 lead, the Reds had a good chance to add on. TJ Friedl hit a single and went to third on De La Cruz's single.

With Jeimer Candelario batting against lefty reliever Brennan Bernardino and the Red Sox's infield playing in, Friedl bolted for home on a grounder to the shortstop. He was out at the plate after David Hamilton's throw to home and De La Cruz took second base.

While Steer batted, De La Cruz took a lead off second base and started to break for third when Bernardino began his delivery. The pitcher was able to stop and fired a pickoff throw to second base as De La Cruz was breaking for third.

"I just looked back and it was more instinct. I just felt like he was probably going to try to go on that pitch," Bernardino said. "I knew it was Elly running, and you see him and he looks like he’s ready to go at any time out there.”

De La Cruz was caught stealing in the ensuing rundown.

“I just made a mistake," De La Cruz said.

“The inside move is a good play. They use it a lot," Bell said of the Red Sox. "It makes it tough. It’s kind of the equalizer at second base. He’s stolen third quite a bit. Almost every time, he’s guessing that they’re not going to inside move. They inside-moved right there and made a good play.”

The Reds had runners on the corners again in the sixth inning with one out. Nick Martini hit a squib in front of catcher Connor Wong. As Jake Fraley went home on contact from third base, Wong was able to pick up the ball and get back to the plate and tag out Fraley.

“In those situations, we had the right idea," Bell said. "The play at the plate, the Red Sox did a nice job of coming in when [Friedl] was going. Jake had the right idea to try to score right there. You can’t wait around to see how far it gets away. He hesitated a little bit."

The Reds are tied with the Cubs for most in the Majors with 33 outs on the bases this season. But they also lead all teams with 108 stolen bases. They entered the day tied for first in highest percentage of extra bases taken (49 percent). Entering the day, the club ranked second in stolen base attempts per game (1.76) and first in stolen bases per game (1.43).

In other words, don't expect the running Reds to stop running any time soon.

“We’re going to be an aggressive baserunning team," Bell said. "We have to continue to learn from each thing and try to get every edge on the bases. It’s going to be a part of our game.”

Boston took the lead against Justin Wilson in the top of the eighth. On a Ceddanne Rafaela grounder to third base, Candelario's throwing error moved him to second base. Jarren Duran added a single to left field and pinch-hitter Rob Refsnyder's bloop single to right scored the tying run.

With one out and Lucas Sims in for Wilson, Rafael Devers flied out to foul territory in left field. Duran was able to score on the sacrifice fly when Stuart Fairchild made a poor throw to the plate.

"Candelario was right in my vision," Fairchild said. "So I couldn’t see exactly where my target was, so I kind of threw it in the vicinity of where I thought home plate was without having a firm visual grasp on where the ball needed to go. That’s the reason I didn’t get off my best [throw] there.”