10/10/12 12:08 AM ET
Steady defenders slip at wrong moment for Reds
By Mark Clements / MLB.com
A passed ball by Hanigan, followed four pitches later by a fielding error from Rolen allowed the game-winning run to cross the plate in the Reds 2-1 loss to the Giants.
It was a rare feat on both counts -- Hanigan had just three passed balls in 877 innings during the regular season, and Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove Award winner, prides himself on his consistent defense.
"It's not the outcome that we wanted and not the set of interviews that I wanted to be doing right now," Rolen said after the loss.
Game 3 ran into the 10th inning with the score knotted at 1. After giving up two singles to start the inning, Jonathan Broxton fanned the next two Giants and faced Joaquin Arias, who was 0-for-2 at that point.
Broxton hummed a 96-mph two-seam fastball on the inside part of the plate that hopped off the tip of Hanigan's mitt and scurried away toward the backstop, allowing both runners to advance to second and third.
"It just ran more than I thought," Hanigan put it simply. "It took off on me and I missed it."
Broxton then fired two sliders that were fouled off and forced a chopping ground ball between third and short that could have ended the inning.
Rolen fielded the bouncer after the quick first hop, but bobbled it off his chest and glove before it hit the ground. He played it up after the first bounce and threw to belatedly to first.
"I wasn't able to make the play, and it cost us the game," Rolen said. "It was kind of in the hole and it was kind of an in-between hop. It hit my glove, but it didn't stick in my glove. I just wanted to be aggressive and try to make the play. It was kind of a do-or-die play, I don't think [Zack] Cozart could have gotten there. I'd probably play it that way again and hopefully get a better result."
Rolen said he's already repeated replayed the error in his mind, but emphasized that he would not have played the ball any differently.
"I would change the result and change the outcome," he said. "I think I would have played it the same way, but that's the way it went."
Despite Rolen's lofty background defensively, it's not the first botched play he's made in the playoffs.
The 17-year veteran committed a throwing error in Game 1 of the NLDS, and has made an error in four of his last five postseason games dating back to 2010, bringing his total to seven career postseason errors.
"This guy is one of the best," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, who has never lacked praise for Rolen's defense. "It was a tough play. The ball came up on him at the last minute. You got to give the base runner credit for hustling down the line at the same time. Most guys, they're out on that ball. That was just a series of bad events."
The bad break began with Broxton, who surrendered the two leadoff hits. The 6-foot-4, 300-pounder was part of the Reds' dominant bullpen that finished the regular season tops in the Major Leagues with a 2.65 ERA and 56 saves, while leading the NL with a .219 opponent's batting average.
If there were two sources the Reds wanted to rely on for the NLDS sweep, it was the pitching and the defense. They got what they wanted and failed to capitalize on it.
"It's over," Broxton said. "You can't do anything about it now, it's over. Basically we just come back tomorrow and go out there and [win] again. That's the playoff. It comes down to one play or one at-bat."
Mark Clements is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.