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Joey Votto hits 4 times on his 33rd birthday, Reds beat the Pirates 8-7

I’ll love you forever, Joey Votto.

MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

It’s Joey Votto’s 33rd birthday tonight. He had 4 hits. Like, who’d you think I’m giving this to?

Age is just a number to the Cincinnati Reds’ first baseman. He doesn’t care if he’s 24, 28, or 33, he just keeps on hitting like he’s supposed to be the best hitter in the league. Like it was his birthright. Lord Joseph Votto, King of the Queen City, first of his name.

We’ve got at least seven more years to enjoy this, should it continue to be enjoyable (to my untrained eye, that’s even money at this point). But the facts remain the same: Joey Votto is special, has been special, and you should cherish each and every moment you get to watch him continue to be special. Because it won’t last forever. 365 days from now, Joey Votto will turn 34 years old. That seems elderly in MLB time, regardless of every time Joey Votto reminds you that he’s still Joey Votto, 1x Most Valuable Player, several time Most Valuable Baseball Player in Your Heart.

I don’t know when it’ll happen, but Father Time is undefeated when it comes to taking down our favorite players. Joey Votto is going to put up a serious fight. Let’s all cherish every punch, every walk, every double, every dinger, every .400+ OBP season, every 0-2 choke up, and every MVP-vote-garnering season, shall we?

Tonight he was 4-5 with two singles, a double, a home run. Swoon.

Honorable mention to Brandon Phillips, who had 3 hits himself, scoring 2 runs. Tucker Barnhart hit 2, accounting for 3 RBI, while Eugenio Suarez hit once, had an RBI and a walk and scored a run. Scott Schebler did, too, though he scored 2 runs. Blake Wood and Michael Lorenzen didn’t allow a run late, and even though Tony Cingrani did, he still garnered the save.

Key Plays

  • The Pirates wasted no time jumping on top of young Robert Stephenson. Josh Hamilton singled on a fly ball to left that probably should’ve been caught by someone out there, but wasn’t, and then Josh Bell looped a drive to the left center field wall for an RBI double. Andrew McCutchen walked before Gregory Polanco popped out to third. Jung Ho Kang smacked a grounder into center, scoring Bell, before Stephenson gave up a free pass to John Jaso, loading the bases. Thankfully, Francisco Cervelli grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, ending the inning. Pirates lead, 2-0.
  • Bell singled to left to open the bottom of the 3rd. McCutchen flew out to Peraza in center field and Bell took advantage of it, tagging, sliding, and advancing to second base. Initially, he was ruled out on the tag, but the wonders of technology and slo-mo replay showed that he did, indeed, beat the tag. Polanco flew out, but Kang smacked a two run dinger into the left field seats in the next AB. Jaso went gently, but the Pirates added 2 more, 4-0.
  • The Reds came alive in the top of the 4th. Adam Duvall flew out to begin the frame, but Brandon Phillips singled before Scott Schebler was hit by a pitch. Eugenio Suarez singled to center to score BP while Tucker Barnhart singled to score Schebler. Hernan Iribarren blooped a single into right field to load the bases before Jose Peraza hit a sac fly into center to score Suarez. Zack Cozart laced a grounder just fair on the third base side and into left field to score Barnhart, but ended up being thrown out at first after trying to get back on a wide turn. As George Grande said, “Brand new ball game!”. 4, all.
  • Joey Votto opened the 5th with his 27th double of the year. Duvall singled. BP singled on a bunt that the Pirates couldn’t handle, like, at all. Schebler walked, and if you’re paying attention, there weren’t any open bases to put him. Votto scored. Suarez sliced a grounder to third base, but Kang gobbled it up and started the double play, 5-2-3. Barnhart delivered, however, smacking a bouncing grounder past the first baseman to score BP and Schebler. Josh Smith (who came on in relief of Bob Steve) struck out to end the inning, but the Reds punched back big time to take a 3 run lead, 7-4.
  • The Pirates clawed back in the bottom of the 6th. Cervelli was called out on strikes, but Jordy Mercer managed a single before Adam Frazier was hit by a Josh Smith offering. Predictably, Josh Harrison smoked a double to the gap in right center to score them both. Harrison tweaked his leg something fierce, signaling his exit. It also signaled the exit for Smith, who was replaced by Blake Wood. Bell struck out before McCutchen walked, and Polanco grounded out to end the inning. The Pirates make it a one run game, 7-6.
  • Somebody put the gotdamn candles on the cake, because Joey Votto blasted his fourth hit of the night into the seats for his 23rd dinger of the year. Kinda seems like he’s 23 and not 33, right? Reds lead, 8-6.
  • The Pirates weren’t finished, of course, because it’s 2016 and we can’t have nice things. McCutchen walked, though Polanco erased him with a grounder that was slow enough he’d reach himself. Dankey Kang singled before David Freese made the second out of the inning. Cervelli singled to score Polanco and make everyone in Cincinnati a little more nervous, but Tony Cingrani got Mercer to ground out to end this one. #ATOBTTR, 8-7.

Tony Graphanino

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • So, with the plethora of young arms getting run this season, we have to wonder at this point in the season, which ones are going to get shut down early. The conventional wisdom is that you don’t want to wear out the young arms that aren’t used to the 180, 200 IP workload. Bryan Price suggests, with all due respect, shove that conventional wisdom where the sun don’t shine, won’t you?
  • In divisional news, the Cubs have won 90 games in back to back seasons for the first time since 1928-1930.
  • Related to the previous Other Note: The World Series Champions in those years were the New York Yankees (1928), and the Philadelphia Athletics (1929, 1930) twice.
  • Pensacola’s season came to an end tonight, as they lost 4-2 to the Mississippi Braves, dropping the five game series 3-1. As at least a more-than-fill-in Farmers Only member, I’m a little sadder about this than I probably should be.
  • Brandon Finnegan will duel with Ryan Vogelsong tomorrow at 1:35pm EDT. You, enterprising Reds fan, won’t be able to watch it by traditional methods, because Fox Sports Ohio won’t be broadcasting it. Or any Sunday game from here until the last game of the season. I’d blame the Bengals, if I were you. Then again, I’d blame the Bengals for nearly everything.
  • In honor of playing the Pirates in Pittsburgh: Tunes.