The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Joey Votto flash any sort of power, much less the patented opposite-field vintage that we grew to love of the first decade of his career.
The Cincinnati Reds finally got a dose of that on Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies, however, as Votto bonked an opposite-field dinger as part of his 2-hit evening. He walked, too, for good measure. And on a night when no other player really stood out, that’s certainly good enough to talk about.
Considering Votto entered play on Friday having hit .309* over his previous 19 games and .333* over his last 15 games, perhaps this is more of what we can hope to expect from Votto for the rest of the season after he began the year mired in such a miserable slump.
*Slugging percentage deliberately excluded.
- Votto wasted little time putting the Reds in the lead, belting a solo dinger in the Top of the 1st over the head of his buddy Jay Bruce in LF, an oppo-shot that was reminiscent of peak Votto. ‘Twas nice. Reds led, 1-0.
- Tyler Mahle had largely cruised, but he ran into Jay Bruce doing his best May Bruce impersonation in June, as the former Reds slugger waited patiently on a 76 mph curveball on the outside of the zone in the Bottom of the 5th and pelted it over the LF wall for a 2-run blast, scoring J.T. Realmuto - who had singled. Then, Scott Kingery singled, moved to 2B on a productive groundout, moved to 3B on another, and then scored when Tucker Barnhart tried to throw behind him at the hot corner but airmailed it into LF. Reds trailed, 3-1.
- The Reds poked back in the Top of the 6th, however. Derek Dietrich began the action by reaching on an error by 3B Maikel Franco, and DD later moved over to 2B when Jesse Winker walked. Jose Iglesias then smacked an RBI single up the middle, and the Reds trailed just 3-2.
- The Phillies plated another run in the Bottom of the 8th, but the Cincinnati defense again helped Philly’s cause. Cesar Hernandez began things by beating out a throw from 3B Eugenio Suarez on a hot smash grounder off Wandy Peralta, one that rightly was considered a hit. Bryce Harper then dinked a single into LF against the shift to chase the lefty Peralta in favor of David Hernandez, a move that came on a double switch that also brought Jose Peraza in to play SS. Then, the baseball gods gave both a blessing and a curse, as Hernandez induced what should’ve been a very straightforward 4-6-3 double play, but Peraza’s awful relay through got past Votto and allowed a 4th run to come in. Reds trailed, 4-2, and that’s how things ended.
- Jesse Winker - yes, Jesse Winker - made a brilliant sliding catch against the wall down the LF line. Don’t believe me? There’s video evidence!
- Tyler Mahle was pulled after just 73 pitches, most of which looked pretty dang good. That said, his spot in the batting order came up with the Reds down 3-2 in the Top of the 6th and a pair of baserunners on, and manager David Bell opted to use pinch hitter Josh VanMeter for a chance to punch back into the game. It didn’t work out, but whatever. Mahle’s final line: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 2 K on those 73 pitches.
- Tanner Roark and Nick Pivetta will do the initial pitching for the Reds and Phillies, respectively, when these two teams go to work again on Saturday. First pitch is set for 4:05 PM ET.