The Cincinnati Reds lost their third straight game Monday, 4-2 to the Milwaukee Brewers. That’s the equivalent of an eight-game losing streak in a normal season. The 60-game schedule has increased the importance of every game, every inning, every at-bat and every pitch.
The added intensity has not awakened the Reds’ bats. The Reds (11-16) scored four runs on 12 hits in the three losses. They continue to rank last in baseball in hitting (.205). That’s 26 points lower than the worst batting average in franchise history over the last 100 years (.231 in 1942) and 33 points lower than the worst average this century (.238 in 2016).
“There’s no question we’ve been very inconsistent this year on the offensive side,” hitting coach Alan Zinter said Monday, “but there’s no doubt that these guys are working hard. They’re doing what they need to do to prepare and get ready. These are really good quality people, really good players. What do you do? You stay the course. You stay the course in what you believe. We believe in these players.”
Zinter said the Reds have hit into a lot of bad luck, calling the team’s batting average on balls in play unbelievable. The stat refers to any plate appearance that ends in something other than a strikeout, walk, hit batter, catcher’s interference, sacrifice bunt. or home run. According to FanGraphs.com, “typically around 30 percent of all balls in play fall for hits.”
The Reds are hitting .224 on balls in play. That’s more than 100 points lower than the Atlanta Braves, who lead baseball with a .327 batting average on balls in play.
Last year, the Reds had a .244 team batting average and hit .288 on balls in play. Zinter isn’t using the bad luck as an excuse, however.
“We have been very inconsistent in scoring runs,” he said. “We need to score more runs. We need to get more hits. We need to do what we’re capable of doing, and we’re not doing that right now. We are going to stay the course and focus on on getting these guys to be who they are, but we’re not going to just blow this thing up and panic and do all kinds of things and and start to do all that because this is baseball. This is very hard."
The Reds hired Zinter in October to replace Turner Ward, who spent one season on manager David Bell’s staff
“This is what I’ve signed up for,” he said. “This is the journey. We walk through the fire as a hitting coach, as a staff member on any Major League club. We’re life coaches. We handle all kinds of situations. Baseball is like life. It’s not fair. To be able to support and walk with these guys and let them know that we believe in each other, that’s the biggest thing. We’re doing a lot of that right now. They are human beings. They want to be doing better. It’s very easy for for their minds to start to wander and just start to doubt a little bit, but they also remember who they are and what they’re capable of doing.”
NOTES: On Monday, the Reds today reinstated from the 10-day injured list reliever Robert Stephenson and designated for assignment reliever Cody Reed. ... The Reds announced the cancellation of Redsfest, which had been scheduled for Dec. 4-5, because of the limits on large mass gatherings. The next Redsfest is scheduled for Dec. 3-4, 2021.