They have the same initials, C.R., and they both entered a Memorial Day baseball game in Great American Ball Park with 25 losses, two teams sharing a treadmill to nowhere.
Only one, though, walked off the field lugging the oppressive burden of a nine-game losing streak. That, of course, would be the Cincinnati Reds.
The Colorado Rockies, who had neither of their two best players in the lineup (Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki), scored a run off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning to gain a 5-4 victory.
Chapman entered the game in the top of the ninth with the score tied, 4-4, and immediately walked the first batter, Charlie Blackmon on a full count. DJ LeMahieu blooped an excuse-me single over first baseman Joey Votto’s head, sending Blackmon to third, and Nolan Arenado lobbed a sacrifice fly to center for the game-winning run.
Colorado closer John Axford did what Chapman couldn’t do. He retired the top of the Reds order, Brandon Phillips (fly to center) and Joey Votto (fly to left). He walked Todd Frazier, the tying run. That brought up the Reds’ hottest hitter, Jay Bruce, who already had three hits, and he lined hard to left center for the final out after just missing hitting the second pitch of the at bat out of the park.
The Reds walked slowly and dejectedly back to the clubhouse to absorb the dregs of nine staight defeats.
During the Reds’ nine-game ride down the slippery slope, Bruce has been the one positive — hits in seven of his last eight games and five multi-hit games in that span, raising his batting average 62 points.
But it is difficult for him to bask in his resurgence because of the team doldrums.
“Losing is not fun. Losing is terrible,” he said. “Losing sucks. Losing is the exact opposite reason you play the game. We’re collectively not getting the job done.
“If we pitch, we don’t hit. If we hit, we don’t pitch,” Bruce added. “If the starters pitch well, the relievers don’t. If the relieivers pitch well, the starters don’t. The hitters don’t hit with runners in scoring position. There is a laundry list of different things.”
It’s a list of dirty laundry.
“Even lately we’ve been making errors I nthe field and that’s something we never ever do. We’re the best defensive team in the league. There are some uncharacteristic things happening,” Bruce said. “We have to play baseball. PLAY baseball. It’s a game. You have to play it and you can’t force things to happen.”
By mid-game, it was Survival of the Fittest between starters Jason Marquis (3-4, 6.91 ERA) of the Reds and Eddie Butler (2-5, 4.38 ERA) of the Rockies.
After six innings, it was 4-4. Marquis was gone after 5 2/3 innings after giving up four runs (two earned), 10 hits and two walks (one intentional).
Marquis walked the first batter he faced and he came around to score. The Reds grabbed the lead in the bottom of the first on Joey Votto’s double and Todd Frazier’s two-run homer, his 13th, for a 2-1 lead.
Frazier, though made a throwing error on Nick Hundley’s ground ball to open the second and three hits later the Rockies led, 3-2, with two unearned runs that started with one of those uncharacteristic misplays.
They pushed that lead to 4-2 in the fourth on Arenado’s home run, his third hit of the game.
The Reds came back to tie it with a run in the fourth on Marlon Byrd’s double and a single by Billy Hamilton, batting ninth, that made it 4-3 and Byrd knotted it in the sixth with his 10th home run.
It was 4-4 and bullpen time for both teams. For once the mid-relievers performed — Ryan Matthews, Tony Cingrani and Jumbo Diaz kept it tied and Diaz struck out the side in the seventh. But Chapman walked the first batter and it led to another slow walk off the field.
“We have the losing streak hangover when we get to the ballpark and we all try to find way to shake it,” said manager Bryan Price. “But today is a loss and I won’t silver-lining it as I have in the past. It’s a loss and it stinks.
“I don’t feel sorry for our players or our team or our organization,” Price added. “We’ve created the environment we’re in with the way we’ve played. We’ve earned a nine-game losing streak. It is hard to sit there in your free time and find enjoyment and peace in your life when you know the team is underperforming. Trying to have patience and get through it is challenging at this point.”
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