Seventeen years ago, after the Cincinnati Reds lost their 11th straight game, manager Jack McKeon told his struggling club, “Start being positive and thinking about how we can win instead of how we’re going to lose. You’re better than this. Just relax, bust your tails, and make things happen. We’re going through tough times, but it’s not time to quit.”
Those words would have worked Tuesday as the 2015 Reds tried to stop a nine-game losing streak at Great American Ball Park. It’s the longest skid for the franchise since 1998.
In all the years since, the Reds had seven eight-game losing streaks. Their slide reached nine games Monday with a 5-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Great American Ball Park.
The 1998 Reds were 30-49 after their 11-game losing streak in June. They won 15 of their next 16 games only to lose 10 of the next 11 after that hot stretch.
Entering the second game of the series against the Rockies on Monday, all the current Reds cared about was finding a way to win one game.
“There is a lot of baseball left to play,” right fielder Jay Bruce said. “We have a decision to make. We can either soak in our own tears and whine and be down and continue to drag our heads, or we can come back and be ready to play. That’s what we get paid to do. I look forward to when it turns around because it’s going to.”
The Reds averaged 2.6 runs in the nine losses and were outscored 59-23. In the last seven defeats, seven different pitchers suffered the loss: Anthony DeSclafani, Johnny Cueto, Jason Marquis, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani, Raisel Iglesias and Aroldis Chapman.
Manager Bryan Price has had to worry as much as rebuilding his team’s confidence as reworking the lineup.
“I think it really comes to not feeding into the frustration and the stress,” Price said. “It’s hard not to. Beyond it being our livelihood, it’s personal. Our investment in our organization and the jobs we do is always the driving force in why we do this. It’s certainly not for financial reasons. We just love what we do.
“When our players are struggling and our team is struggling, obviously we struggle with it. We all have to have a collective sigh and just breathe and realize we’re playing baseball. We’re playing a game we all love.”