By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — As part of their 150-year celebration, the Cincinnati Reds wore replicas of the uniforms worn by the 1935 team.
The front of the jerseys were plain white — no wishbone-C, no ‘Cincinnati,’ just blank, nothing to identify the team wearing them.
And the way the Reds are playing these days, perhaps that is a good thing.
To those who regularly follow them, though, they were easily recognizable as a last place team, emphasized Saturday night in Great American Ball Park by a 4-3 defeat to the Texas Rangers.
For the Reds it was their 15th one-run defeat and 25th by two runs or less — 25 of their 38 losses.
“Those (one-run) losses are frustrating,” said manager David Bell. “It is frustrating to lose any way. There is just no good way to lose.
“But it does make you feel that you are so close,” he added. “It is motivating to find what we have to do better and we have to figure that out fast, how to win these close games.”
Texas starter Mike Minor gave the Reds some major problems early while the Rangers constructed a 4-0 lead over Reds starter Tanner Roark.
But the Reds pecked away at that lead and Roark settled in. After Texas scored two runs in the fourth, Roark retired the last 10 he faced.
Roark vacated after seven innings, giving up four runs (two earned), eight hits, no walks and five strikeouts during a 116-pitch work night.
“The last two innings he pitched were as good as any I’ve seen through all year,” said Bell. “He takes a lot of pride in that, works hard to be durable and finish strong like that.”
Just like Friday when the Rangers jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning off Tyler Mahle, the Rangers duplicated that in the first innings against Tanner Roark.
It began when first baseman Joey Votto made a wild throw, enabling leadoff hitter Shin-Soo Choo to reach. Choo took third on Danny Santana’s single and scored on a ground ball by Elvis Andrus.
With two outs, Asdrubel Cabrera drilled a run-scoring single to left and it was 2-0, both runs unearned.
The Rangers pushed the lead to 4-0 in the fourth. Rougned Odor doubled and scored on a single by Jeff Mathis. Mathis took second on left fielder Phillip Ervin’s throwing error, the third Reds error in four innings.
Mathis scored on Shin-Soo Choo’s single to center and it was 4-0.
The Reds didn’t have a hit off left hander Mike Minor until the fourth inning. But he walked Eugenio Suarez to open the fourth, Minor’s third walk, and Yasiel Puig unloaded his 12th home run on a 1-and-2 pitch, cutting the Texas lead in half, 4-2.
A Cincinnati threat surfaced in the sixth, but ended quietly. Joey Votto led with a walk and Eugenio Suarez singled sharply to left.
This time Puig couldn’t come through and popped to shallow right field. Phillip Ervin grounded to second, putting runners on third and second with two outs.
A base hit would tie the game and the batter was Jose Iglesias, second best in the National League with runners in scoring position at .404. After fouling off two 2-and-2 pitches he hit a soft ground ball up the middle and was thrown out at first, leaving it at 4-2.
The Reds crept ever closer in the seventh inning when Curt Casali opened the inning with his fourth home run and the deficit was 4-3.
Kyle Farmer followed the home run with a single. Tucker Barnhart batted for Tanner Roark and struck out.
Mike Minor was removed and replaced by Chris Martin to face Jose Peraza. Peraza replaced Nick Senzel in the fifth when Senzel fouled a ball off his left eye and had to leave. Peraza quickly hit into an inning-ending double play.
Senzel’s injury was a freak event. He fouled the ball off the ground and it bounced up and struck him in the left eye. It required three to four stitches.
Senzel, who has spent an inordinate amount of time healing from injuries in the minors since he signed, was asked if this one was one of the strangest.
“Yeah, probably,” he said. “It just hit me in the eye and I had to come out of the game. I don’t know what else to say. It hit me in the eye and I got stitches. I’ll throw some ice on it and get the swelling down. I don’t think it is that big of a deal.”
Jose Leclerc pitched the eighth for the Rangers and struck out both Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez on change-ups. The inning ended when center fielder Delino DeShields chased down Puig’s long drive against the right center wall.
“When he hit it I thought it was a home run and a tie game,” said Bell.
Roark was succinct about what he saw.
“I felt like early-on in the game we came out flat,” he said. “There was a lack of energy. But we picked it up along the way, which is good. We need to play with that same type of energy. We need to scratch and claw and fight and do anything we can possible do to win.”
Asked about the frustration of losing one-run games, he added, “You can’t wait on the next guy to do it. You have to be that guy, no matter if it is hitting or bullpen or starters.
“The next guy has to pick up the next guy and we just have to do it. . .just do it,” he said. “That’s what it comes down to. There is nothing to go in depth about. We just need to trust one another and trust ourselves and believe we can do it.”
So far the only belief is that if it is a one-run game, the Reds are the team with one less run.