Brandon Phillips on Cincinnati Offense: 'We're ... Not Good Enough'
So does blowing a 2-1 lead and a series sweep in the eighth inning of the finale on an error.
That's just what happened to Cincinnati Thursday evening. Second baseman Brandon Phillips compounded some spotty relief work by the soft underbelly of the Cincy bullpen by throwing the ball away on a double-play attempt in the eighth. The error wound up plating the decisive run for the Nationals in a 3-2 win and cost the Reds a chance to move within a 1/2 game of first place in the NL Central.
Phillips was unapologetic for the airmailed throw that went past first baseman Adam Rosales and scored Washington shortstop Cristian Guzman.
"Game on the line, you're going to try to make a play. That's what I tried to do," he said.
Phillips did have plenty to say about the Reds' anemic offense though. Cincinnati mustered just nine runs in three games against the Nationals and entered Thursday ranked 11th in the National League in runs scored.
"Honestly, I feel like we shoulda lost every game [of the series]," Phillips vented. "We're not hitting the ball. Our pitching staff is doing the job, but two runs is not good enough.
"This [Nationals] team right now, they're down, they're in last place ... it's just terrible how we hit the ball. Honestly, in my opinion, I feel like we shoulda lost every game."
Phillips' assessment of his team is pointed, frank and 100 percent correct. The Reds' offense has been lousy so far this season. They're hanging around in their division because of an excellent pitching staff -- from the rotation to the bullpen -- but if they fall out of the race, much of the blame will have to be placed on Cincinnati's hitters.
The question, of course, is what can the Reds do about it?
Getting regular first baseman Joey Votto, who has been on the disabled list since May 30 with stress-related issues, back in the lineup would be a big help. So would the continued emergence of right fielder Jay Bruce, who is hitting .218 this season, but is supremely talented.
That might not be enough, though, not with the Cubs expecting guys like Rich Harden and Aramis Ramirez back soon from the disabled list and the Cardinals and Brewers situated well. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty made scores of good deadline deals during his time in St. Louis. Rosales (.598 career OPS) and Laynce Nix (.698) are both currently everyday players for Cincinnati.
If Jocketty fires up the phones in the next few weeks, there's a good chance he can acquire a player or two that would give the Reds offense considerably more thump. They're probably going to need it if they want to make a big push in the Central.