Big League Stew - MLB

For a few minutes during Friday's second inning, Chase Utley(notes) went into his weird Chuck Knoblauch mode and gave the Cincinnati Reds a free run with two throwing errors.

But lest they be accused of poor etiquette, the Reds reciprocated the gift later in the game.

And, uh, then some.

Over the course of a disastrous fifth, sixth and seventh innings, the Reds played the kind of baseball in which anything that could go wrong did. In the process, they turned a four-run lead into a 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the NLDS. 

The lead from the Associated Press article — "From no hits to no defense" — says it all.

But here's a more detailed look on how the Reds turned a potentially great homecoming for Sunday's Game 3 in Cincinnati into a potential funeral for their first playoff season since 1995:

• Starter Bronson Arroyo(notes) put together five good innings and was one out away from entering the sixth having kept the powerful Phillies lineup off the scoreboard. But consecutive errors from both second baseman Brandon Phillips(notes) and third baseman Scott Rolen(notes) — both as reliable fielders as they come — extended the inning and loaded the bases with Philadelphia runners. Chase Utley capitalized on both mistakes, hitting a two-run single that halved Cincinnati's lead to 4-2.

• With Arroyo's pitch count escalating, manager Dusty Baker entrusted the game to his bullpen. Arthur Rhodes(notes) and Logan Ondrusek(notes), in turn, paid Baker back by hitting Carlos Ruiz's(notes) knee and Ben Francisco's(notes) noggin, respectively. Ondrusek then walked Shane Victorino(notes) with the bases loaded, bringing the score to 4-3.

• The hit-by-pitch woes continued in the seventh as flamethrowing rookie phenom Aroldis Chapman(notes) nicked Utley to lead off the inning. A strikeout of Ryan Howard(notes) followed, but then Utley safely reached second when a throw from Scott Rolen on a Jayson Werth(notes) grounder was ruled late. It wasn't clear from replays whether Utley did beat the throw to the bag, though Baker did come out to argue the call.

The objection, however, proved fruitless and the stage was set for the Reds' biggest mistake of the night. Jimmy Rollins(notes) stroked a line drive that right fielder Jay Bruce(notes) would later say he lost in the lights. The ball bounded behind the right fielder, allowing Utley to score the tying run and Werth to also come home with a lead that Philadelphia would never relinquish.

"It's embarrassing," Bruce said. "I take great pride in my defense, but there was nothing I can do about it."

Game, set, series?

With both teams headed back to Cincinnati after Roy Halladay's(notes) no-no and Cincinnati's defensive carnage — nightmares that even the most pessimistic of Reds fans could not have drawn up — it certainly seems that way. 

But in a series that matched the playoff-tested Phillies against the recently-blossomed Reds, it's not surprising to an outsider that the series has unfolded without a Cincinnati victory yet. There are plenty of sunny days ahead for the franchise, but you figure they'll have to weather a few thunderstorms first.  

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