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10/11/10 2:35 AM ET
Reds gain valuable lessons for next go-round
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- Three and out and swept, the Reds did not get a win against the Phillies in the National League Division Series.
It does not mean they came up entirely empty, since they can file away the experience to use when there is a next time. Once that arrives, they will have to clean up some areas and continue to emphasize others. Here is what they learned:
Extra outs are killers:
A team that had air-tight defense throughout the regular season and a NL-low 72 errors, the Reds killed themselves with seven errors in the NLDS.
Surprisingly, a majority of the errors came from Gold Glove winners in Scott Rolen and Brandon Phillips, with two apiece. Both made critical errors in the seventh inning of Game 2 that led to two Phillies runs and a comeback after Cincinnati had a 4-0 lead.
"That was one game. That was a fluke," first baseman Joey Votto said. "The guys that made the errors were arguably the two best defensive players at their positions maybe even in the Major Leagues."
You gotta hit your pitch:
Running into a starting-pitching trio of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels may seem extraordinary, but for the most part, pitchers of that caliber are what you can expect come October. You cannot expect to see many mistakes in October, and when you do, you have to square them up.
Cleanup hitter Rolen was 0-for-7 in the first two games and finished 1-for-11 with eight strikeouts. Votto was 1-for-10 with a sacrifice fly. Reds hitters were limited to 11 hits in the three games -- a Division Series record for fewest hits. The team batted just .124 (11-for-89).
"I didn't get as many pitches as I typically do. But the pitches I got, I did miss," Votto said. "That happens sometimes. It was only a three-game series. Give me another chance and I think I will be all right."
"They ran three pitchers at us that we obviously struggled with all the way through. I certainly struggled with them," Rolen said.
Several members of the lineup, including Rolen and shortstop Orlando Cabrera, were banged up with injuries, and that no doubt was a factor. Others, perhaps because from a long season and the experience of a first-time contending, might have been tired or worn down. But there's no pity in October, no shortage of aces to battle and no Paul Maholm's or Dave Bush's to get healthy on.
The pitching was solid:
Although outdueled by the Phillies, the Reds' pitching staff has nothing to be ashamed of after the series.
Even Edinson Volquez, who lasted just 1 2/3 innings in Game 1, didn't get hit around by the potent Phillies lineup. However, Volquez lacked command of his fastball, and it ruined his evening quickly. Travis Wood followed with 3 1/3 scoreless innings and might have gotten a start if there were a Game 4.
With Wood, the Reds bullpen' worked 6 1/3 scoreless innings in Game 1. Bronson Arroyo followed with a 5 1/3 inning performance, where only one of his three runs were earned. Johnny Cueto had two runs, one earned, from his Game 3 start that lasted five quality innings. The bullpen followed Cueto with four scoreless innings.
Save for Rolen, Ramon Hernandez, Bronson Arroyo, Arthur Rhodes, Orlando Cabrera and Miguel Cairo, the Reds were scarce with postseason experience.
The Phillies were NL East champions in each of the past four years. Their first time around, in 2007, they were swept in the NLDS by Colorado.
"They're like the second or third tour for a military guy. They've been here before," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "Most of our guys are first-tour guys. Where were they three years ago? The next year  they won the World Series and the next year  they went to the World Series. Plus, their team has been together three, four, five years -- most of them."
"The longer you play, the longer you're in the game, the longer you can play in the postseason and the more times you get to the postseason, you get more comfortable in your skin, no different than breaking into the big leagues," Arroyo said.