By HAL McCOY
The first three letters in fundamentals are f-u-n, but it is no fun for the Cincinnati Reds when they fail to execute basic fundamentals.
For the second straight game against the lowly Detroit Tigers, the Reds messed up cutoff throws and fouled up on the basepaths.
The result was two defeats, 7-4 on Wednesday afternoon after a 2-1 setback on Tuesday night.
On Tuesday, left fielder Phillip Ervin missed two cutoff throws, one that led to a run that was the difference in the game. He also failed to score from second base on Joey Votto’s double off the right center wall, a run that could have made a difference.
On Wednesday, Ervin again missed a cutoff man and a run scored. And it was catcher Curt Casali and Joey Votto creating baserunning blunders.
The Reds were down, 6-0, after six innings. Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire made one of those strange decisions that manager sometimes make.
Relief pitcher Daniel Strumpf pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning and needed only 10 pitches. Gardenhire, though, took him down for the seventh and replaced him with Alex Wood.
The Reds promptly ripped six straight hits, five off Wood, and scored four runs. And they had runners on third and first with one out.
Jose Peraza grounded to the pitcher, who threw him out. But Curt Casali, no Billy Hamilton on the basepaths, strangely broke for home and was out to end the inning and the big rally.
Votto walked to open the eighth and Eugenio Suarez blooped a ball into left field for an apparent hit, but Votto didn’t reach second. A throw from the outfield forced him at second, also taking a hit away from Suarez.
And the Tigers executed an easy steal of second base when neither shortstop Jose Peraza nor second baseman Scooter Gennett thought about covering second base.
The Tigers constructed a 4-0 lead against Reds starter Sal Romano, who gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The Reds caught what they thought might be a break when Detroit starter Mike Fiers had to leave after two innings when he took a hard ground ball off his right foot.
But other than Alex Wilson, the Tiger bullpen shut down the Reds.
The bottom four hitters in the Tigers lineup did the most damage against Romano and four Reds relief pitchers.
They accounted for eight hits and five RBI. No. 7 hitter Jim Adduci contributed a solo home run and a run-scoring single. But when it came for him to bat a third time, Gardenhire pinch-hit for him with Ronny Rodriguez. The moved worked when Rodriguez cracked a run-scoring single against Wandy Peralta. He stayed in the game and contributed another hit.
The Reds finished with 11 hits, but six came during the four-run inning. Newly acquired Preston Tucker contributed a run-scoring single during the four-run seventh.
Eugenio Suarez, Mason Williams, Phillip Ervin and Billy Hamilton each had two hits, but other than the four-run seventh the Reds couldn’t put anything together.
After taking three of four from the first place Philadelphia Phillies at home, the Reds began his nine-day trip with two losses in Detroit. Now they head for Washington for four games against the Nationals and they face Max Scherzer in Thursday night’s opener.