A long time ago, or so it seems in this marathon of a baseball season, the Reds scored nine runs in the ninth inning to beat the Cardinals 13-4. That was April 8, the first game between the two National League Central rivals this season.
Looking back on that game this weekend, in what seems like an understatement now, Reds manager Dusty Baker said, “It seemed like we (ticked) them off.”
St. Louis has outscored the Reds 75-29 in the 11 games since. The latest beatdown, the worst of them all, happened Sunday. The Cardinals kicked five field goals and beat the Reds 15-2 in the deciding game of a three-game series in front of a crowd of 39,618 at Great American Ball Park.
Hundreds of young Reds fans ran the bases with their parents after the game, a close approximation of the actual game when the Cardinals wore out the basepaths, home plate and the Reds’ pitchers. All eight position players who started the game for St. Louis had at least two hits.
Not even reliever Sam LeCure, who had allowed just two earned runs in his last 17 appearances, could withstand the St. Louis onslaught. He gave up four earned runs in the ninth in a game that was decided much earlier.
St. Louis scored four runs in the first inning against Mike Leake and five more in the sixth against Leake and Logan Ondrusek.
“This was disheartening,” LeCure said. “It just sucked. Losing games is one thing. Going out there and getting embarrassed in front of your fans is another. We did just that. We’ll see how we respond with this off day. Hopefully, everybody comes back with a renewed sense of urgency.”
There was little doubt before this series and none now. The Cardinals are just a lot better than the Reds. Consider the following facts:
- St. Louis leads the season series 8-4.
- St. Louis has won two out of three games against the Reds six series in a row.
- St. Louis has scored at least 10 runs against the Reds four times this season, the first time that’s happened since 1980.
The Reds (61-51) are now a season-high 6 ½ games back of the Pirates (67-44) and trail the Cardinals (65-45) by five games in the chase for the first wild-card spot.
The Reds still have a solid grip on the second wild-card berth, leading the Diamondbacks (56-55) by 4½. That was little consolation Sunday. Only Zack Cozart’s two-run home run in the second saved the Reds from being shut out.
“It was a tough day on everybody,” Baker said. “That’s one of the worst defeats I can remember. We had another worst two days ago (a 13-3 loss), and this was worse than that.
“We certainly need to get our act together. Everyone has to be held accountable for the job they do or do not do.”
Athletics at Reds, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, FS Ohio, 700, 1410