MILWAUKEE -- Before the season even started, the Reds decided on a different tack by spending the night in Los Angeles after Wednesday night's game and flying to Milwaukee during Thursday's off-day. It prevented red-eye travel, and in light of the team's deep struggles, moved manager Bryan Price to do something else. He had the team report late Friday, with the clubhouse not being opened until 4 p.m. CT.
"I acknowledged to our players that they can't physically do more than they're doing," Price said before Friday's game. "Everyone's [usually] early, they're in the cages, they're out taking grounders, they're looking at video, they're going through the advance reports, doing conditioning, in the weight room -- everything you can possibly do physically."
Alas, the Reds may have changed their routine but not the outcome, dropping their 11th game in a row with a 9-5 defeat to the Brewers. It's their longest streak since they lost 13 straight Sept. 20-Oct. 2 last season, before dropping 14 of 15 to end 2015.
For the first time since Sunday, Cincinnati scored more than two runs. But they also blew a 3-0 first-inning lead and continued some troubling trends.
In the last 11 games, the Reds are hitting .189 (68-for-359) -- including Eugenio Suarez's career-long 0-for-24 funk. Meanwhile, the pitching staff has a 7.13 ERA as the team has been outscored, 81-31. For all the preparation going on behind the scenes, it's not translating into wins on the field.
"That's baseball, that's life, that's a lot of things," Reds right fielder Jay Bruce said. "The 'try hard' doesn't always get the job done. Getting the job done gets the job done. We're not doing that."
The Reds prepared fans in the offseason for the possibility that this would be a challenging year requiring patience. Veteran players familiar with division titles only a few years ago knew the environment they might play in.
"However, when you're in the middle of a down streak, a bad streak, it's painful," Price said. "Nobody plays baseball to lose with the frequency that we have in the last week and a half. ... We really work hard not to tap into the negative.
"That's the easiest emotion, to tap into the negative and make being a big league player, coach or manager a negative thing. It's not. This is the environment everyone's worked hard to get into, and what I want everyone to remind themselves of, that we're not going to tap into the negativity of losing, we're going to be stronger than that."
It's easier said than done when the runs and losses accumulate quickly. As starting pitcher John Lamb lacked command and was already getting roughed up, Bruce missed a difficult catch running back on Keon Broxton's one-out fly ball. It went off his glove, and opened the door for Milwaukee to take the lead with a four-run inning.
"We're Major League Baseball players and paid to come here and be ready, be prepared and do our job," Bruce said. "Not even that we get paid, this is a very high-level profession. Anyone at this high of a level expects a ton out of themselves preparation-wise and expectation-wise. We obviously have not played up to our expectations."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.