The first 2 games of the most important series in Cincinnati since 1999 have come to a close. And they definitely have not gone as hoped for by Reds’ fans. St. Louis has come in and absolutely embarrassed a team that has not lost a series since the All Star Break (until now). The Cardinals on paper are no better than the Reds. Sure they possibly have the most formidable trio of pitchers on one team in the game (Carpenter, Wainwright, and Garcia), or at least the most dangerous tandem in Carpenter in Wainwright. But the Reds have plenty of solid pitchers as well. And the Cardinal’s hitting is not overwhelming by any means. Outside of Pujols and Holiday, try naming me another strong hitter. They certainly do not field as well as the Reds either (other than the past 2 games). So then why are the Cardinals making this look like taking candy from a baby the past 2 nights?
Plain and simple. The Reds have lost sight of the fundamentals. They have lost sight of what has gotten them to their very impressive 64 total wins already. For lack of a better term, the Reds seem to have lost some focus these past 2 couple of nights. They have let their emotions get the best of them, which is typical for any young team. Well hormone time is up boys. It is now a 48 game season, which starts this afternoon. All bets are off as the Reds and Cardinals head into the final 2 months of regular season play all knotted up. The beautiful thing for the Reds though. As bad as the first 2 nights of this series have gone, they are still tied atop the NL Central with a chance to head into the Florida series up a game on the rival Cards. And though nobody wanted to lose 2 out of 3 at home, would that really be so bad?
So as I have been preaching for the past 2 months. The Reds have been a specimen of near perfection in the fundamentals category. Not only has this team led the National League in batting average, hits, and runs, they also have been in 1st or 2nd all year in overall fielding percentage. This team has hit the ball and fielded the ball with the best of them. Well they have not done this the past 2 nights. The Reds have mustered up a measly 13 total hits thus far against the Cards. On the year, the Reds have averaged well over 9 hits a game. So the boys are not making the contact at the plate that they need to be making. Secondly, the Reds have made 3 errors thus far in this rumble with the Cards (all 3 last evening). On the year, the Reds have made only 47 errors total over the course of 114 games. That is little over 0.4 errors a game. They are overthrowing cutoff men and going at balls in the outfield with one hand (Heisey). This is unacceptable. Lastly, what has been up with the Red’s baserunning? Jim Edmonds, the savvy veteran, made a huge mental error on the basepaths last night. This blunder put a fork in a crucial 7th inning rally for the home team. Also on this play, people do not realize how horrible Ramon Hernandez’s jump was. Holliday should have thrown Hernandez out at home, but struggled to get the ball out of his mitt. So on one play, the Reds had 2 baserunning mishaps. And though the Reds are not a big time basestealing team, Yadier Molina has completely negated the running game for Cincinnati.
The Reds have also lost sight of the fundamentals they have demonstrated all year in professionalism. The comments made by Brandon Phillips were way out of line. I am happy that he hates the Cardinals and really wants to beat them. But please let your bat and glove do the talking big guy. Phillips is currently 1 for his last 14 at the plate, and was a major instigator of the brawl that occurred last evening. Also during the brawl, Johnny Cueto can be clearly seen kicking former Red’s catcher, Jason Larue. This is a big no-no. Everybody knows if a fight does ensue and you really feel the need to be involved, punch and tackle people. Do not kick. Cueto will be looking at a hefty suspension for his ridiculous kicking.
So there you have it. The Reds need to go back to the fundamentals. This is not the end of the world by any means for this young and exciting team. So I hope the Cincinnati fans stay excited and continue to support these guys. With 48 games left, Cincinnati is tied for first place. Who would have thought this would be the case in April?
It all stems back to the fundamentals.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.