What's worse? Missing a sign? Or ignoring a sign?
Brandon Phillips came to the plate with runners at first and second – both had reached on walks – and two outs in the fifth inning Saturday night with the Reds down two runs.
The count went to 3-0. Third base coach Mark Berry relayed manager Dusty Baker’s take sign.
“To tell the truth, I didn’t even look down there,” Phillips said. “I was trying to make something happen.”
Phillips flied meekly to right to end the inning.
The Reds would go on to lose 7-4 to the Royals. The Reds have lost three straight. They are just one game over .500 at 31-30. They need to win to tomorrow for a break-ever road trip.
Baker was livid afterward not because of the big picture, but because of Phillips’ indiscretion.
“Brandon was supposed to be taking 3-0,” Baker said. “That could have been the ball game. We had (K.C. starter Kyle Davies) on the ropes. (Phillips) said he didn’t see the sign. In that situation, you’re supposed to know to take.
“That’s a big play in the ballgame. You’ve got to know the score, the inning, the situation.”
Phillips decided to try to lift the offense on his own. The Reds are in the thick of team-wide slump. They’ve scored 40 runs in the last 14 games.
“We was struggling. We wasn’t getting no one on base,” Phillips said. “We weren’t hitting with runners in scoring position. I had an opportunity. I swung 3-0.
“He threw me a nice cutter. If I would have come through, it would have been the best play of the year. I tried to make something happen. For future reference, I will not do it again. I apologized to everybody: My bad for a 3-0 swing. I tried to make something happen.”
“I respect my teammates,” Phillips said. “They see what’s going on. We ain’t faced anyone who’s overmatched us. We haven’t been facing No. 1 pitchers. Our team is too damn good to be getting beat by the pitchers we face. We should be undefeated on this road trip.”
With the way the offensive is going, they really shouldn’t be.
The biggest sign of futility: Leadoff man Willy Taveras went 0-for-4. He’s not on an 0-for-32 skid. That’s the longest by a Red since Denis Menke went 0-for -33 in the 1973.
“It ain’t easy to watch,” Baker said. “We got go back to the drawing board.”