Time runs out on Reds, who plan 2011 revival
Cincy hampered by Hamels in Game 3, but has learned much
CINCINNATI -- No matter what setback or crisis they faced this season, the resilient Reds of 2010 always had time on their side. There was always the room and the ability to pick themselves up and move forward.The Reds learned how quickly time can run out in the postseason, however. A 2-0 loss to the Phillies in Sunday's Game 3 of the National League Division Series left them swept in three games. They have no choice but to save the next revival for 2011. "When this season starts, you don't pick a date where the bus is going to stop," Reds left fielder Jonny Gomes said. "Coming into the clubhouse today, we didn't think it would stop here." Down 0-2 and facing elimination before returning home, any Reds hope to find some way, any way, to beat their long odds and extend their season for one more day became an emphatic no-way. It was a disappointing end to a 91-win campaign and the first postseason berth for the club since 1995.
In a brilliant pitching performance, Phillies starter Cole Hamels stifled Cincinnati with a five-hit shutout that included zero walks and eight strikeouts."You know, pitching is the key, and they threw three excellent pitchers against us," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We pitched well today, but Hamels pitched better. You know, it's a tough pill to swallow when you work so hard from Spring Training to get to this point." Beginning with Roy Halladay's dominating no-hitter in Game 1 and capped by Hamels' effort, the Phillies put the Reds lineup through a pitching buzzsaw. They were held scoreless in 23 of the 27 NLDS innings. "Every pitch is back against the wall with both guys," first baseman Joey Votto said. "Both Roy Halladay and Hamels looked great. They both threw very well. My hat's off to them." The heart of the Reds' order was particularly silenced as the third, fourth and fifth spots went a combined 2-for-28. Scott Rolen was 1-for-11 with eight strikeouts. Votto was 1-for-10 with a sacrifice fly. "I didn't get the job done," Rolen said. "That's not a series I wanted to have, period. That's not the way I wrote it up. It's not the way any of us wrote it up." The Philadelphia pitching staff also broke the record for fewest hits allowed in a Division Series with 11. The previous record was 13 by Yankees pitchers against the Rangers in the 1998 ALDS.
PHILLY'S PHANTASTIC PITCHING
In between Halladay and Hamels, the Reds had perhaps their most heartbreaking defeat. A 4-0 lead against Roy Oswalt was given away with four errors and five unearned runs. A team that made an NL-fewest 72 errors this season committed a stunning seven errors during the playoffs."The next time we're in Game 2 and we're up 4-0, I think we'll say, 'We've been here already, let's close it out,'" Votto said. "That's not to disrespect any of my teammates or our organization, but we'll have been there and done that." The Reds had a Great American Ball Park record crowd of 44,599 towel-waving enthusiastic fans to watch the first playoff game held in Cincinnati since 1995. Hamels, who is 6-0 in seven career regular-season starts against the Reds, gave them little to cheer about. "I think I was able to really establish my fastball early. I was able to hit my spots away," Hamels said. "And when you're feeling good and you're able to dial it up a notch, it's going to make it a little bit tougher, especially for the success." Reds starter Johnny Cueto had a solid evening during his five innings with one of his two runs being earned. Cueto gave up five hits and a walk with two strikeouts. With the Reds desperate to get something going against Hamels, Cueto was lifted for pinch-hitter Miguel Cairo with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. A decision to start the injured Orlando Cabrera at shortstop appeared to backfire as his two-out error scored the game's first run. Cabrera, who is bothered by a sore left oblique and wasn't expected to start, fielded Jayson Werth's ground ball and made a high throw that pulled Votto off first base. That allowed Placido Polanco to score the unearned run from third base. There were two outs in the fifth when Chase Utley hit an 0-1 Cueto pitch into the first row of the right-center-field seats for a home run. Center fielder Drew Stubbs and Baker complained of fan interference, but the call was upheld via instant replay following a 73-second delay. Meanwhile, the Reds only mustered one extra-base hit and never had a runner touch third base. Cincinnati began the first inning optimistically when Stubbs legged out an infield single to lead off. Brandon Phillips followed with a line drive to center field, where Shane Victorino made a nice running catch to likely prevent a Reds run -- and momentum. Even as the Reds bullpen followed Cueto with four scoreless innings, the lineup could not get traction against Hamels. After a Rolen one-out bouncing single up the middle snapped his 0-for-8 playoff skid in the fourth, Hamels retired 10 in a row until a Ramon Hernandez two-out double in the seventh. Hamels escaped by getting Jay Bruce to hit a routine fly ball to right field. In the ninth, the crowd got peppy when Phillips led off with a single through the left side. But Votto's routine 4-6-3 double play dashed hopes for a rally, and Rolen's strikeout on Hamels' 119th pitch was the final out of the season. Inside the clubhouse, it was quiet but not morose. Players hugged each other and offered encouragement. The uniforms were coming off for the final time this season, but the cloak of resiliency would be worn through the winter. "I'm still confident in our offense. This is the end, and new beginnings are coming," Bruce said. "I'm confident in our team. We have a great team here. We're looking forward to next year."