Cincinnati Reds: Players share fans' disappointment with another postseason fail

'We choked,' says Brandon Phillips

PITTSBURGH -- As the Reds shared their fans' disappointment with another postseason failure, Brandon Phillips was the most outspoken player in the clubhouse, as usual.

"We choked. We did," Phillips said after the Reds' 6-2 loss  to the Pirates in the Wild Card Game Tuesday night.

"I don't care how people really feel, or my teammates, how they feel about what I'm saying right now, because it's the truth,” Phillips said, according to Yahoo! Sports.

“Either you win or you go home, and I'm going home, and the last place I want to be is on my couch. I don't want to do that. But it happened today and it sucks, man. I mean, it's terrible," Philips said.

Phillips, who went 0-for-4 and botched a double-play ball that led to a Pirates’ run, backpedaled as he went on and spoke specifically about his own performance.

"What message am I sending? It's not a message that I'm sending. I mean, I choked. I didn't do nothing today. I mean, what'd I do today? Tell me, what did I do? Did I get any hits, did I get any RBIs?

"I choked. I didn't do nothing to make the team win. And, like I said, it's on me. It's not the team's fault, it's my fault. I had opportunities to really come through for the team and I didn't do that."

First baseman Joey Votto, who went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, called the loss "really disappointing."

"It's unfortunately been a bit like deja vu," Votto said.

The Reds, who won 90 games and reached the playoffs for the third time in four years, once again failed to advance even a single round.

Cincinnati has dropped four straight postseason games and 11 of its last 13.

"Having good seasons and winning in the regular season's all fine and dandy but you play ... to win championships and we haven't been able to get it done," said right fielder Jay Bruce, who had an RBI single. "We have to figure out a way to do a better job."

Asked what changes need to be made, Bruce replied:

“I don’t know. The players have to find a way. It’s not anyone else. I think everyone has to hold themselves responsible and figure out a way to take the next step.”

Before the Pirates jumped ahead 3-0, some Reds fans on social media started calling for manager Dusty Baker to be fired.

Baker, who has one year left his contract, made no excuses for the loss.

"They outpitched us and they outhit us. Usually that's something that we do,” Baker said. “It's very difficult to come down to one game, especially the way we played.  We got outplayed big time."

Related story: Is it Dusty Baker's fault? http://www.wcpo.com/sports/baseball/reds/is-it-dusty-bakers-fault

Reds starter Johnny Cueto laughed when asked if the taunting from the raucous Pirates fans bothered him.

With 40,000 fans chanting "Cue-to, Cue-to," the right-hander struggled with his command in just his third start since coming off the disabled list. He gave up two homers and lasted just 3 1/3 innings.

"When you're pitching, you don't listen to fans, you just concentrate and see the hitter," Cueto said.

Maybe, but Cueto never looked comfortable on the mound.

"He couldn't get the ball where he wanted," Baker said. "Usually he can throw that ball through the eye of a needle. Tonight he was up."

Baker had preferred to start Mat Latos, but Latos complained of a bone chip in his elbow.

"The Pirates played better today, better offensively and certainly pitched better, but that's not to discredit Johnny,” said Votto. “Every single time there's a game like that I'd certainly want him on the mound. Just one of those games."

See a photo gallery from Tuesday night's game at http://www.wcpo.com/sports/sports-photo-gallery/reds-vs-pirates-wild-card-game

The Reds insisted their five-game losing streak in the final week of the regular season -- including a sweep at home last weekend by Pittsburgh that moved the wild-card game to PNC Park -- wouldn't matter thanks to the blank slate the playoffs provide.

But that proved to be wishful thinking.

“We didn’t come in first place, that’s the biggest thing. You have to come in first,” third baseman Todd Frazier said.  “I think we were a game behind this last month and couldn’t get over the hump."

“Obviously, we wanted to win the division, but it didn’t happen,” said left fielder Ryan Ludwick, who went 3-for-4 and had half of the Reds' hits. “We had a one-game playoff, got outplayed tonight and lost.”

Going into the offseason, Reds GM Walt Jockety and owner Bob Castellini face at least two big personnel decisions, besides Baker:

Center fielder Shin-Soo Choo and pitcher Bronson Arroyo are both free agents.

Re-signing Choo, who hit a homer and scored both Reds' runs, figures to be a top priority, but Choo can probably get a bigger, longer deal from another club.

Arroyo has already told MLB.com that he would love to retire as a Red but it would take at least

a two-year contract to re-sign him.

Greg Noble wrote this story with reports from WCPO's John Popovich and Bryce Anslinger and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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