When defense deserts the Cincinnati Reds, it is evident that things are at rock bottom.
If nothing else these days, the Reds can be counted upon to play good defense and most of the time they play great defense.
That wasn’t the case Sunday afternoon in Cleveland. The Reds did a great impression of the Columbus Crew soccer team, kicking the ball all over the stadium.
They made three errors and second baseman Brandon Phillips fumbled two balls that should have been double plays.
After all the miscues were calculated, the Reds had lost for the eighth straight time, a 5-2 decision to the Cleveland Indians, the occupants of last place in the American League Central. And it completed a three-game sweep by the Tribe and the Reds went 0-5 on a trip through Kansas City and Cleveland.
Four of the first five Indians runs scored via errors or misplays by the Cincinnati defense.
Raisel Iglesias, a stand-in for sore forearmed Johnny Cueto, struggled with his control but pitched well enough to win.
Iglesias could make it only through three innings because it took him 83 pitches to get there. He struck out six, but went to three-ball counts on a lot of them, and walked three.
And the offense? What offense? During their eight-game losing streak the Reds have been outscored 54-19. They were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position Sunday and 1 for 19 during the three games in Progressive Field.
The Reds had two hits in the first inning against Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer, a one-out single by Skip Schumaker and a two-out single by Todd Frazier. But with two outs and runners on first and third, Jay Bruce grounded to the pitcher.
Iglesias struck out the first two hitters he face, then walked two before getting the third out in the bottom of the first.
The Tribe put runners on second and third via two hits with two out in the second before Iglesias struck out Jason Kipnis on three pitches.
Then the Reds began playing kickball in the third and it led to two runs. Carlos Santana doubled to lead off the inning and with one out Brandon Moss walked.
David Murphy hit a possible double play ball right at first baseman Joey Votto. But the ball skipped off his glove and a run scored. It was ruled a hit but was definitely playable.
Nick Swisher hit another double play ball to Phillips at second base, but the ball kicked off his foot into right field, an error and another run and a 2-0 Indians lead.
More defensive ugliness surfaced in the sixth with J.J. Hoover on the mound. Yan Gomes grounded to the mound and the ball ricocheted off Hoover’s glove for an error.
Lonnie Chisenhall hit a double play grounder right at Phillips at second, but he fumbled the ball and recovered in time to get Chisenhall at first, but botched the double play.
Hoover walked Mike Aviles and Kipnis to fill the bases. Michael Brantley hit one hard to first base and Votto made a diving stop. But the throw eluded Hoover, covering first base, and rolled far enough away that two runs scored to make it 4-0. Votto was charged with the error although it looked as if Hoover should have caught it.
The Reds finally scored in the seventh when designated hitter Marlon Byrd hit his ninth homer, a solo shot that cut it to 5-1.
Aroldis Chapman, who hasn’t had a save opportunity in 10 days, pitched the eighth to get work and tune up. And he gave up a run on a double to Kipnis and a single to Santana that pushed it back to a four-run deficit at 5-1.
The Reds scored a run in the ninth against closer Cody Allen on a one-out walk to Bruce and a double by Brayan Pena. It ended when Byrd grounded to third and Brennan Boesch, batting .111, struck out.
Manager Bryan Price once again tinkered with the lineup and once again it didn’t work. He had Schumaker in left field, Boesch in center for Billy Hamilton, who jammed his hand and shoulder sliding head first into second base Saturday night, and Kristopher Negron at shortstop in place of Zack Cozart, 1 for his last 26.
Boesch, batting .121 when the game began, batted eight and Negron, batting .115 when the game began, batted ninth. Schumaker was 1 for 4, Boesch was 0 for 4 and Negron was 1 for 3 as the Reds scraped together six hits.
Price was blunt after the game during his post-game interview with Fox Sports Ohio’s Jim Day.
“I apologize to all the fans who drove from Cincinnati to see this,” he said. “It was brutal. We are all brutal right now.”
And nobody argued.
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