CINCINNATI -- Joey Votto took off from second base as soon as the baseball came off Brandon Phillips' bat in the bottom of the fourth inning. It was a clean line drive single to center field by Phillips and Votto was running as hard as he could towards third base, where coach Steve Smith's right arm was telling Votto to keep heading for home.
The message was well intentioned but misplaced. That's what happens when you are in the kind of offensive rut the Reds are in.
The Reds lost to the Rays 1-0. It was their eighth loss in 11 games to start the season. They've played nine games in which the differential has been two runs or less. They've won just two of those games. They've scored more than three runs in just three games. They've only allowed more than three runs in a game four times so far but when you're not scoring it doesn't take much to put a little anxiety into equation.
Smith sending Votto in the fourth was all about that anxiety.