“It sucks,” said Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart, who was 0-for-5 in the series. “I hate to be brief, but there is no other way to put it. Everybody’s bummed. We felt we had as good a team as anybody coming into this. We just couldn’t get it going.”
Here are five reasons they lost Game 2:
1. The Reds couldn’t capitalize on their one scoring opportunity: They loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning thanks to a lead-off single by Eugenio Suarez and two walks only to have Barnhart strike out to end the inning.
In the short series, only one Red who started both games had a decent stat line. Nick Castellanos went 3-for-10 with a double. Mike Moustakas struggled the most, finishing 0-for-8 in the two games.
The growing scoreless inning streak affected the batters.
“I think anybody’d be lying if they said the alternative,” Barnhart said. “You can see how the game went yesterday. You can see how the game was going today. Nothing positive seemed to happen. If anything did, they made a good pitch or we hit the ball to somebody.”
2. The Braves were due: As poorly as the Reds have played in the postseason since winning the National League Division Series in 1995 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Braves have been even worse in this century.
The Reds are 2-13 in four playoff appearances since that series victory. The Braves swept them in four games in the National League Championship Series in 1995. Then the Reds were swept in three games by the Philadelphia Phillies (2010 NLDS), lost in five games to the San Francisco Giants (2012 NLDS) and lost a wild-card game to the Pittsburgh Pirates (2013).
Until Thursday, the Braves had not won a playoff series since 2001. They had lost in 10 straight playoff rounds. They had lost seven straight clinching games. They won the first two games against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS last season and then lost three straight games.
With their first series victory in 19 years, the No. 2 seed Braves advance to face the No. 3 Chicago Cubs or No. 6 Miami Marlins in the NLDS, which will start at Minute Maid Park in Houston on Tuesday.
3. Luis Castillo was good but not perfect: One day after Trevor Bauer threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings, Castillo opened with four scoreless innings. Then he gave up an RBI double to Ronald Acuna in the fifth.
Castillo left the game with one out in the sixth. He allowed one earned run on six hits and struck out seven.
“He and Tucker did a great job working together today,” Reds manager David Bell said. “The key since he’s been pitching so well in the last month is getting ahead with his fastball. He has a great fastball.”
4. The bullpen let the game get away: The Braves scored four runs in the eighth against Raisel Iglesias. Marcell Ozuna and Adam Duvall each hit two-run home runs.
5. The Braves pitching was dominant: Rookie Ian Anderson, at 22 the third-youngest pitcher to start a playoff game for the Braves, allowed two hits in six innings and struck out nine.
“He has a pretty elite fastball,” Bell said. “He’ll throw fastballs down in the zone that look like balls, and they just stay right there. What makes his fastball elite is the way it has that rising effect. He can do it up in the zone and then down in the zone. Good breaking ball and a really good changeup. It was impressive what he did.”