Most fans wished the Reds luck in the Wild Card playoff game as they left the dugout for the final time in the 2013 regular season Sunday at Great American Ball Park. One guy chose that moment to show the players the worst of their fan base.
“Dusty, what the (heck)!” the guy screamed from the first row.
A few players glared at him and turned the other cheek. They then walked down the dugout steps toward an uncertain future, glad to forget that guy and everything else about the present — which included a 4-2 loss to the Pirates on Sunday and a five-game losing streak to end the regular season.
This Reds team was always going to be defined by what it did in October, whether it won 100 games and ran away with the National League Central or finished, as it did, 90-72 and in third place. The Reds have a hard road ahead, beginning with the Wild Card playoff game at 8:07 p.m. Tuesday in Pittsburgh, but they have a new life at last.
That was their only consolation after getting swept by the Pirates. Pittsburgh (94-68) finished the season four games ahead of the Reds and three behind the Cardinals.
St. Louis (97-65) beat the Cubs 4-0 on Sunday to clinch the top seed in the playoffs. That means the Cardinals will host the Reds or Pirates in the first game of the division series Thursday.
The Reds still had hopes of catching St. Louis when this final homestand began. They ended up finishing seven games back as the Cardinals won their last six.
“I don’t think the guys worry about the way we finished the season,” catcher Ryan Hanigan said. “We didn’t hit much against the Mets. The Pirates just beat us here. It’s all in the past right now. We’re looking ahead. I don’t think anyone’s going to worry about that. We’ll have plenty of energy, plenty of momentum for that game and hopefully through the playoffs.”
The season doesn’t continue for every Reds player. The team will name its 25-man roster for the Wild Card playoff game on Tuesday.
It’s unlikely veteran catcher Corky Miller will make the cut. He sat on the bench with a towel draped around his head and neck after Henry Rodriguez struck out to end the game. All the other Reds players had departed for the clubhouse, leaving Miller alone with his thoughts.
The 37-year-old Miller doubled in his only at-bat Sunday. It was his first at-bat since Sept. 10. He drove in both Reds runs, providing one of the few highlights for his team in the series.
Baker started his regulars in a game that meant nothing in the standings. He didn’t want to disappoint a sellout crowd of 40,142, the 16th of the season. The starters all got two at-bats before leaving the game.
If the Reds hoped to create a little momentum in those early innings for Tuesday, they failed. Zack Cozart was the only everyday starter to get a hit. The Reds’ offense enters the postseason having scored just 11 runs in its last six games.
“It’s a new season,” Baker said. “What you did previously, it doesn’t matter. What you didn’t do previously, it doesn’t matter. Now you’re starting the season all over. Today we hit some balls on the nose, which is a good sign. We just didn’t find any holes.”
Reds at Pirates, 8:07 p.m. Tuesday, TBS, 700, 1410