The Cincinnati Reds‘ 2014 season hasn’t met expectations for a team that has won two divisional titles the past four years and advanced to the playoffs a third time as a wild card. The biggest failure for the Reds has been their inability to win close games under first-year manager Bryan Price.
After the Reds blew another close game in Tuesday’s series opener against the San Diego Padres, the Reds are now 6-12 in one-run games. The most recent loss magnified some of the flaws for the Reds that have kept the team in a losing trend.
One of the biggest flaws for the Reds has been aggressive base-running, which has led to Reds’ base-runners thrown out at the plate more times (11) than any other team. The Reds have also encountered difficulties with base-running at other bases, like the unsuccessful attempt by Joey Votto to stretch a single into a double last night that resulted in a second out with a runner at third. The out killed what could have developed into a big enough rally to not lose another game by one run.
So too could advancing runners when advancing runners is all that is needed. Twice in their latest one-run loss, the Reds failed to score from leadoff doubles. The inability of the Reds to score runners from second is nothing new. They are dead last in the major leagues in scoring a runner from second with a single (just 10 times), which is even worse than the offensively-challenged Padres.
The Reds have struggled in general all season with runners in scoring position and continue to wallow among the bottom fourth of the major leagues in batting average with runners in scoring position (.225) and overall average with runners on base (.238). The team has hardly exhibited much in the way of clutch hitting tendencies as the Reds’ .196 RISP with two outs would indicate.
The offense is responsible for its share of the Reds’ one-run losses, but so too is the bullpen, which eventually lost the Reds’ latest one-run loss when Aroldis Chapman surrendered a solo shot in a tie game. But when your team manages to scratch out only one run and leaves eight runners on base like the Reds did in their latest one-run loss, the bullpen can only be blamed so far.