Decision costly as Reds lose
CINCINNATI — Bam-bam turned out to be bad-bad.
Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto had to make a quick decision and it turned out to be the wrong one when he cut off a throw home allowing the winning run to score as the Kansas City Royals beat the Reds 6-5 Friday in 10 innings.
Reds’ reliever Micah Owings walked Billy Butler and Brayan Pena in the 10th inning to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. The Royals’ Yuniesky Betancourt spanked a two-out single to center that Reds’ outfielder Drew Stubbs came up with cleanly and fired a strong throw toward home.
But Votto made the decision to cut off the throw and threw to third baseman Scott Rolen who ran down Pena and applied the tag for the third out.
But the slow-running Butler scored before the final out to give Kansas City the lead.
“It was a bam-bam decision,” said Votto. “It was a ball I thought was running up the line. It was one oof those ones where it could go either way. I suppose in most situations we want to let the ball go through.
“But when I’m reading a ball, I usually go with my instincts. My instincts said to cut it off. Late-game situation, I suppose I should have probably let it through, but I’m really on the fence about it.”
Reds’ manager Dusty Baker and a frustrated catcher Ramon Hernandez were perplexed by Votto’s decision. Hernandez threw his arms up in disbelief. Baker was just as confused.
“That’s not the winning run,” Baker said of Pena. “The winning run was coming across the plate. I didn’t know if the throw was off or not. I couldn’t really tell. Butler isn’t that fast a runner. I thought we had a shot of getting him at the plate.”
Video replays showed Butler was well up the third base line and Stubbs’ throw was slightly to the left of home plate. Still, Votto wasn’t convinced.
“The play happened really quickly. The ball had some movement on it. It’s not as clear as the video shows. I’m not saying it was a good decision one way or the other, it was just the decision I made at the time,” said Votto.
Regardless of whether Votto should have cut off the throw or not, the Reds were guilty of putting themselves in the precarious position.
With the help of a solo home run by Jay Bruce, Reds’ starter Bronson Arroyo was cruising along with a 4-0 lead through four innings when his game went south. So did the lead as the Royals scored three in the fifth and used a two-run homer by Betancourt to take a 5-4 lead in the sixth.
“It’s just a lead you can’t give up, especially if you’ve thrown as little of pitches as I had and as good of command as I had on all my pitches,” said Arroyo who allowed six hits in seven innings along with the five runs.
“You can’t give up a four-run lead no matter what. It definitely hurt us.”
Owings lack of control was another factor to hurt the Reds, but maybe not as much as the lack of clutch hitting. The offense left 11 runners stranded including the bases loaded with no outs in the eighth, two men in the ninth and the leadoff man in the 10th.
“It was tough, especially when our team has been so good at picking up baserunners in scoring position,” said Baker.
The Reds lead the major leagues with 21 come-from-behind wins with 12 coming in their last at-bat.
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