Sunday, May 13, 2001

Astros 2, Reds 1


Deion misplays another ball into a loss

By John Fay
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The big question about Deion Sanders when the Reds called him up: Can he hit? Now the Reds are wondering if he can catch.

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Deion Sanders is tagged out at home, gunned down by Moises Alou after trying to score from second on a sharp single to right.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        Sanders' misplay of Lance Berkman's fly ball to center field was the difference in the Reds' 2-1 loss to the Houston Astros in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday night.

        The loss was the third straight for the Reds and eighth in nine games. Ironically, on a night when the Reds made it three straight games without an error for the first time all year, defense did them in.

        Berkman hit the ball well, but Sanders took a step in, then raced back. He nearly caught up to the ball on the warning track, but it went over his glove for a double. Craig Biggio scored the winning run on the play.

        “I was hoping it was an out,” starting pitcher Rob Bell said. “I wished for all eight seconds the ball was in the air.”

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Aaron Boone backhands a ball as umpire Scott Higgins calls it foul.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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        It was the second straight game Sanders played a fly ball into a double. Wednesday, it was key to Arizona's winning rally. Saturday, it provided the go-ahead and eventual winning rally.

        But the Reds should have never allowed the game to come down to the Sanders play Saturday.

        The Reds managed to get four straight hits — two of them doubles — and score only one run, in the first inning.

        “I've never seen a game with four straight hits and one run,” Houston starter Shane Reynolds said. “I got lucky.”

        He also got a break in the form of some ill-advised baserunning by the Reds.

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Kelly Stinnett tries to convince umpire Mike DiMuro he was hit by a pitch. He failed.
(AP photo)
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        Barry Larkin led off with a double to left. Sanders followed with a double to left-center to score Larkin.

        Dmitri Young then singled sharply to center. Sanders was waved in from third by coach Ron Oester. But even Sanders wasn't fast enough to have a chance to beat Moises Alou's strong throw. Sanders was out by 3 feet.

        Sean Casey singled to center. Young was running all the way, but he was out by three steps on Berkman's bullet to third.

        The Reds might have had Reynolds on the ropes. Instead they had a 1-0 lead and a runner at first.

        Alex Ochoa walked, but the inning ended when Aaron Boone grounded out.

        It was a bad start to what turned out to be a very disappointing loss.

        “We didn't run that real good,” Reds manager Bob Boone said of the first inning. “The misplay in center field. We shut down the hitting after the first after we had a chance to break it open.”

        The bright spot was Bell.

        He made a strong case for a permanent spot in the rotation. He was making his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Louisville.

        He went eight innings Saturday, allowing the two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. His ERA since his return is 3.21.

        “I really didn't feel like I threw the ball that well,” he said. “The second half of the game, I made pitches when I had to. But early on, I had no control of my fastball, no curve, and my changeup wasn't "locatable.' That's not a word ... well, I guess it is now.

        “The only thing I could do is go with my two-seam fastball.”

        It worked.

        Bell allowed a single to leadoff batter Julio Lugo, then didn't give up another hit until Biggio led off the fourth with a home run.

        By the time Sanders' mis play led to the second Houston run, Reynolds was rolling. He allowed three singles after the first and retired the last nine batters he faced. He went seven innings, allowing the one run and seven hits. He walked one and struck out three.

        “He made some good pitches when he had to,” Boone said. “Then he started dropping the breaking ball in.”

        After Mike Jackson worked a 1-2-3 eighth, the Astros turned things over to closer Billy Wagner, who, well, closed it. He fanned Young, Casey and Ochoa.

       



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