Reds' struggles 'not fun,' but optimism for rebound remains

May 20th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- It all seemed to set up nicely for the Reds to leave town with at least a four-game series split. In the top of the 10th inning on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, was the club's automatic runner on second base. In that scenario, it's more or less considered a given that De La Cruz will somehow score.

Instead, De La Cruz couldn't steal and couldn't advance. Then, Shohei Ohtani batted in the bottom of the 10th and notched an RBI single for the first walk-off hit of his career as the Reds were handed a 3-2 defeat.

“I was looking for an opportunity but I didn’t see it," De La Cruz said of trying to run from second base.

As shortstop Mookie Betts lurked behind De La Cruz while pitcher Anthony Banda vigilantly checked him, Mike Ford struck out. Jeimer Candelario hit a grounder to third base in front of De La Cruz, giving him no chance to advance. Jake Fraley popped out to first base to end the inning.

A four-game series that started with promise when the Reds notched their signature win of the season -- with Thursday's four-hit, four-steal game by De La Cruz -- ended with an unsatisfying thud.

“We’re going to get through this," De La Cruz said.

There's an awful lot to get through at this point, as the 19-28 Reds fell to a season-high nine games under .500.

  • It was a 3-7 West Coast road trip through San Francisco, Arizona and Los Angeles. Two players -- TJ Friedl and Nick Lodolo -- went on the injured list. A third, reliever , exited in the ninth inning on Sunday with a right triceps injury. There was some optimism that Pagán's issue wasn't serious.
  • Since sweeping the Angels April 19-21, Cincinnati has gone 0-7-1 in its last eight series.
  • The last time the Reds had back-to-back wins was April 23-24 vs. the Phillies. That's when they were at their highwater mark of the season at 14-10.
  • In the 23 games since, they are 5-18 while being held to two runs or fewer 11 times.
  • In one-run games this season, Cincinnati is 1-11.

“It sucks. We understand that this is unacceptable as far as results, winning and losing," Pagán said. "We’ve just got to keep playing. You don’t want to try and do too much. You don’t want to start pressing or whatever. We understand we have to start stringing together some wins. It’s not fun coming to the field losing series after series after series. We’re too good of a team to be doing this."

Starting pitchers have done their part to give the Reds a chance. In the last 23 games, the rotation has a 3.67 ERA but the lineup has a .208 average, slightly below the season mark of .217 that is ranked 29th out of 30 MLB clubs. There were only 34 runs scored during the 10-game road trip.

turned in another solid performance with 6 1/3 innings while allowing two earned runs and four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts. Greene hung a first-pitch slider to Andy Pages in the fourth inning that went for a two-run home run to left field and a 2-0 Dodgers lead.

In his last six starts, Greene has a 2.61 ERA. He has one win to his credit -- at Arizona on Tuesday -- over his last four games.

"Obviously, it’s not fun that we’re going through it," Greene said. "We’re just trying to go out there and compete and do our best.”

Going home is no guarantee of a trend breaker. The Reds were swept in all six games by Baltimore and Arizona during the last homestand. Up next are three games vs. the Padres and three more vs. the Dodgers at Great American Ball Park.

Up to this point, the Reds have played only one series against a National League Central opponent this season. That means lots of backloaded division games, where Pagán sees opportunity.

“We’ll be able to make up ground," Pagán said. "There’s some guys on this team that have been on teams where you’re supposed to be good. You say, ‘It’ll come, it’ll come, it’ll come,’ and then it never comes. We do need to play with some urgency, for sure. But we’re not panicking by any means. We know what we’re capable of and we’ll go on our run. Hopefully soon, but it will come.”