Saturday, August 05, 2000
Marlins 2, Reds 1
Hot-hitting July seems long ago after 3rd loss in row
By Chris Haft
The Cincinnati Enquirer
For the seventh time in 23 games, the Reds' record rests at .500. When something happens that often, it's not a coincidence.
The Reds' flirtation with mediocrity continued to grow closer to a marriage Friday night as they lost their third consecutive one- run decision, falling 2-1 to the Florida Marlins before 34,849 Cinergy Field patrons.
The offense that led the National League in runs, hits and extra-base hits in July already is a distant memory. Cincinnati (54-54) is batting .224 (22-for-98) and has scored four runs in its losing streak.
Marlins starter Ryan Dempster (10-8), who allowed six hits in eight innings, and relief ace Antonio Alfonseca, who earned his major league-leading 33rd save, held the Reds hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position.
By contrast, Cincinnati's pitching kept thriving. The Reds wasted another strong performance, this time by Pete Harnisch (3-6), who worked eight innings. Harnisch's only glaring mistake was a 2-2 fastball he threw to Mike Redmond, who hit it into left field for a two-out, two-run double in the second inning.
I really didn't think it was all that much of a mistake pitch, Harnisch said. I think it's stupid that I'm even sitting here analyzing one pitch I threw in the second inning.
Cincinnati starters have posted a 3.12 ERA in the last nine games, which usually would help breed success. Instead, the Reds are 4-5 in that span and are fortunate to trail first-place St. Louis by five games in the National League Central Division.
We're still in a position where if we can get really hot, boom, we're right back there, Reds right fielder
Dante Bichette said. And we're confident now that we can get a hot streak because of the way our pitching's been lately.
But the Reds hitters shouldn't be blamed in this unsteady season of fluctuating fortunes. Clip and save the following comment by Harnisch, which summarized the 2000 campaign:
This is the way it's gone this whole year for us, Harnisch said. There have been way too many prolonged stretches where the pitchers pitch and the hitters don't hit, and then vice versa. The hitters are swinging the bats, scoring six or seven (runs) a night, and we can't keep the other team under 10. It's so cliched, but that's what happening. That's why we're a .500 team. When we swing the bats, we don't pitch, and when we pitch, we don't swing the bats.
Harnisch wasn't criticizing effort, just lamenting results.
Everyone's busting their (butts), he said. We have a good bunch of guys here. It's the same guys who did all that stuff we did last year to win all those games.
Last year, concluded Harnisch, the Reds would have won this type of game with an extra-inning run or a broken-bat blooper. This time, Alfonseca survived Bichette's one-out single and Dmitri Young's two-out double to retire pinch-hitter Alex Ochoa on a mildly challenging grounder.
It's just not there, Harnisch said. It's as simple as that.
In fairness to the Reds, their skid has been hastened by three of the league's best pitchers. In New York, Mike Hampton and Al Leiter concluded the three-game series by dazzling Cincinnati. Then came Dempster, an All-Star selection who Harnisch called as good a pitcher in our league as we've had, outside of Randy Johnson.
Bichette, who had no chance of scoring on Young's searing double in the ninth, tried to remain upbeat.
I think the best thing for this club would be to look at the positive, look at the pitching we're getting and believe that they can keep it up, Bichette said. If they can do that, we're going to win a lot of games the rest of the way.
I don't think you lose hope in these kind of games. I think you kind of gain some hope. If there's any way to lose, it's with good pitching. If you get pounded three games in a row, you're thinking, "No way we've got a chance.'
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