Joey Votto has been often mentioned as a front-runner candidate for Comeback Player of the Year. Last night he got that campaign kicked off in style.
Votto hit just .255 last season, appearing in only 62 games. On the bright side, his on base percentage was still a robust .390, but he only had 6 homers.
Aside from 2008, when he hit “only” .297, Votto had a string of .300 seasons, so last year was definitely a down one for the first baseman.
Last night, Votto tied the game up with a two-out single in the 7th inning and then he won it with another RBI single in the bottom of the 11th, sometimes shortly before 2 AM local. (I’m glad I didn’t stay up to watch the whole thing.)
Walk-off. The Cincinnati Reds win and improve to 2-0, dropping the Pittsburgh Pirates to 0-2.
Votto is hitting .400 through the first two games of the season.
From the lead-off spot, Billy Hamilton is hitting .444. He stole three bases last night after having pilfered one on Opening Day as well.
Gerrit Cole was throwing gas last night for the Bucs, but lasted just 5 innings after racking up 93 pitches. Such is the life of a strikeout pitcher. The pitch counts add up. Cole finished with 6 strikeouts and 2 walks, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits.
Todd Frazier was the Opening Day hero for the Reds with a walk-off homer. The 2014 NL Central Hub All-Division third baseman hit his 2nd homer of the season in the 1st inning, giving the Reds an early 1-0 lead.
The Pirates locked up third baseman Josh Harrison in a four-year contract extension to the tune of $27.3 million. Harrison has club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
He joins Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Jung Ho Kang and Jose Tabata as Pirates with multi-year deals.
Next up for GM Neal Huntington may be Gregory Polanco while it sounds as though hometown player, Neil Walker, may be left exploring free agency following the 2016 season.
Cincinnati goes for the sweep this afternoon.
* * *
In Chicago, they got the ballgame in after having postponed game 2 of the series due to inclement weather than never actually materialized. (PANIC!!!)
Lance Lynn was on his game for the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing just 2 hits and a walk in 6 innings of work, striking out 9 Cubs.
Unfortunately for the Cards, Jake Arrieta was pretty dominant as well, going 7 innings and allowing 3 hits and 3 walks while fanning 7 Cards – 3 of which were caught looking.
Following the 7th inning stretch, the ballgame was still knotted at 0-0. Anthony Rizzo led off the Cubs’ 7th getting hit in the upper right thigh by a Lynn fastball. Lynn’s pick-off attempt went wide of first baseman Matt Adams for an error that allowed Rizzo to move up to 2nd. Starlin Castro then singled over a leaping Johnny Peralta into left, scoring Rizzo and giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.
Castro alertly advanced to 2nd on Matt Holliday’s throw home, which was a strange one. Holliday had the ball with Rizzo still a step or two away from 3rd, and it appeared he’d have a good play at the plate on him as he was being waved home. But it also appeared as though maybe the throw home was supposed to involve a cut-off man, only no Cardinals were there to receive the throw. Instead, Holliday’s throw bounced a couple of times on the wet grass before being picked up by Lynn just left of the mound.
Castro moved to 3rd on a sac bunt, and then scored on a sac fly deep to right, making it 2-0, Cubs.
That would hold up as the Cubs’ pen continued to pitch well. Phil Coke, Neil Ramirez and Pedro Strop each retired one batter in the 8th and Hector Rondon picked up his 1st save with a spotless 9th.
Although they finally scored a couple of runs, the Cubs are hitting just .125 through 2 games and have struck out in 37% of all plate appearances.
* * *
The Milwaukee Brewers were swept by the Colorado Rockies, although they made a game of it.
Ryan Braun was out one more day while he nursed a minor rib injury, but he stepped in as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 9th, the Brewers trailing 4-2 with men at 2nd & 3rd and 2 outs.
Braun hit a soft roller down the 3rd base line that Nolan Arenado couldn’t field, allowing Gerardo Parra to score.
Carlos Gomez then hit a single through the infield and into right field for a game-tying RBI.
With Braun in scoring position, however, Jonathan Lucroy struck out and the game went into extra innings, where the Rox Wilin Rosario came off the bench as a pinch-hitter and connected for a solo homer that held up as the game-winner.
On the plus side, Wily Peralta broke the streak of bad starts for Milwaukee pitchers, going 7 innings and allowing a pair of runs on 7 hits and no walks.
The Brewers now play their next 19 games against teams in the NL Central. If they were going to get swept in April, this was a good series to have that happen. Now it’s time for them to get to work. They have home-and-away series against the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates, skipping the Cubs this month.
|0-2||Pittsburgh||Burnett, AJ (0-0, -)|
|2-0||Cincinnati||DeSclafani (0-0, -)|
|11:35 AM CT|