For a portion of the 28,361 in attendance, it was one long day. The game between the Washington Nationals and the Good Guys was supposed to start at 1:10 PM. Weather forced the start time back to around 4:45 PM. A total delay of three hours and thirty-six minutes to be exact. The time of the game was three hours and forty-five minutes. I imagine a good number of dollar dogs were consumed in the time…and maybe a Skyrosa or two.
I bet a few ponchos made their way out of the Reds Team Shop and the other souvenir stands that offered the sale of such. Maybe even a jacket or two. In the end, the scant number of that 28,000+ that remained were treated to an ending of epic proportions.
Okay, that may be a tad over-dramatic, but you have to admit, it’s close.
It’s a good thing Joey Votto is a Red. He practically carried the team for this game. Realistically, the Good Guys had no business even making it a game. Even though the Nats scored six runs, they stranded 14 runners and had one thrown out at the plate by left fielder Chris Heisey.
In a sense, Heisey would prove to have a pivotal at-bat in the bottom of the ninth…
Starter Bronson Arroyo didn’t dazzle like he had for his first few starts this season. He surrendered four runs and scattered 11 hits over his five innings of work. Sam LeCure and J.J. Hoover each surrendered a run of their own (Hoover’s first since being promoted from Louisville) to allot for the Nats six runs.
The Reds manage touch Edwin Jackson for three runs and five hits in his five innings. Two of those runs and two of the hits came off the bat of Votto…both home runs. Votto’s evening was just beginning.
In the bottom of the 8th, the 2010 NL MVP doubled to right allowing for Drew Stubbs to advance to third. With two outs, Jay Bruce would take the first pitch from Sean Burnett a loft it into right field. Somehow, right fielder
Babe Ruth Bryce Harper lost track of it and the ball drop near the warning track in right center. Stubbs and Votto scored to bring the Reds within a run, 6-5, Nats ahead.
The heroics were set, but it took some work to get there.
Like I said, it was work.
Nats skipper Davey Johnson summoned his hard-throwing closer Henry Rodriguez. After Ryan Hanigan led off with a single, Wilson Valdez sacrificed him to second. Miguel Cairo, who entered the game in the 7th, popped out in foul territory. Two outs, but the Reds did have the tying tun on second with the top of the order.
I saw Drew Stubbs heading to the plate and I figured two things would happen: strikeout or a hit to tie the game. I only say strikeout because Rodriguez can hit triple digits on the radar. Wrong on both counts. Stubbs walked on five pitches. Only a first pitch strike was relatively close to the strike zone.
First and second, two outs, Heisey to the dish.
Heisey looked pretty silly on the the second pitch and found himself down in the count 0-2. Again, Rodriguez could not muster another strike. I’m guessing that’s not how Nats fans saw it. Neither did Pitch F/X.
Dodged one there. And Votto strode to the plate. He was already 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.
He would add to that. A 2-2 count and a 96mph waist high fastball later, Reds win 9-6 as the Reds first baseman deposited that pitch into the lawn in center field for a walk-off grand slam. Yes, you read that correctly. Votto ended the game with four hits, six RBI, four runs scored…and even a prominent mention on ESPN’s Bottom Line (which in itself was a shock).
To say Votto carried the Reds on this night is a vast understatement. He had four of the Reds nine hits. Drove in six of the nine runs while scoring four of the nine the Good Guys plated. There were plays that complimented his bat. Heisey gunning down Danny Espinosa at the plate. Harper losing the ball in the sky on Bruce’s 8th inning double.
What’s surprising is that Votto even saw a pitch anywhere near the strike zone during his first four ABs. Votto has seen less pitches in the strike zone among all Reds batters (39.8% according to Fangraphs). In the bottom of the 9th, there was no choice. Rodriguez had to pitch to him.
This is the type of performance that can send a whole team on a hot streak.
And yes, I can’t watch the replay of the slam enough…