The Reds have had this feeling before, and it is getting old fast.
After losing to the Pirates, 6-2, Tuesday at PNC Park in the National League wild-card game, the Reds have been one series (or game) and done in the playoffs for the third time in four years.
That's why, despite all of the regular-season success, the players all know there is a lot of work to be done and offseason changes could be coming now that they have fallen short again.
"It is more frustrating [to lose in the postseason as opposed to not making the postseason]," said Reds right fielder Jay Bruce. "Having good seasons and winning in the regular season is all fine and dandy, but you play and you win to win championships, and we haven't been able to get it done and we have to figure out a way to do a better job."
Reds manager Dusty Baker added: "It's like, I don't know, unbelievable actually. Our club has been through a lot of things on and off the field. Our club has stuck together. We realize I guess now we still got some more work to go. We got some improvements, you know, to make."
The Reds' losses in 2010 and 2012 could be rationalized by first-time jitters and injuries.
But Bruce said Tuesday's game against the Pirates was different and especially frustrating because the Reds didn't play well.
He said there is no excuse for playing poorly in a big game.
"They beat us on both sides of the ball. They pitched better, they hit better," Bruce said. "There is nothing really else to say. It was, in my opinion, pretty apparent the whole game. Home field always makes a difference, but what really made the biggest difference is they played better than us."
Brandon Phillips, who went 0 for 4 and misplayed a ball that could have been an inning-ending double play, was even more direct in his assessment of what went wrong for the Reds.
"We choked," he said. "We did. I don't care about how my teammates feel about what I am saying right now, because it is the truth. I choked. I didn't do nothing. It is not the team's fault it is my fault. I had the opportunity to come through and I didn't."
The Reds finished the season on a five-game losing streak but spent Monday telling anyone who would listen that the playoffs were a new season and that momentum was "in the hands of the next day's pitcher."
Johnny Cueto, the Reds ace, insisted his health wasn't an issue and that he just didn't have his best stuff.
"I feel a little sad but I feel good, I am healthy," he said through interpreter Tomas Vera. "I left two pitches high in the zone and they make an adjustment and you saw what happened. I felt aggressive, this is part of the game, this is how the game goes. Like I said before, two pitches, two home runs, I lost the game.
"That's part of the game, that's the way it goes."
Reds first baseman Joey Votto said he is not sure what will happen in the offseason but he is going to control what he can control and is looking in the mirror and trying to improve.
"I need to put in a lot of work in the offseason to become a better ballplayer so we can be a better team," Votto said.
"It is unfortunately been a bit like deja vu for us, and it is really disappointing because there is so much hope going into this game.
"I don't have the answer for [what it takes to get over the hump], I think we just need to continue to get better. We need to continue to improve and grow as players and keep getting better. You can see it with the Pirates in the way they played -- they played really good baseball and made really good acquisitions in Russell Martin, Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd."
Paul Zeise: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.