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Votto-matic is listed on Joey Votto’s Baseball-Reference page, so it must be a popular nickname. But for whatever reason, I heard it for the first time on Sunday, when he hit three home runs, including a walk-off grand slam, and the Fox Sports announcers said “Votto-matic” about twice per sentence.
It’s been a bad year for closers across baseball, with roughly half of teams reshuffling their bullpens because of injury or failure. The Reds have been no exception. First, before the season, they lost presumptive closer Ryan Madson to an elbow injury. Dusty Baker named Sean Marshall his replacement. But the manager has never showed much confidence in his new closer, and Marshall has struggled. He has five saves in six chances, but he also has surrendered six runs over 11 innings of work (a 4.91 ERA) and has taken a pair of losses.
The Reds are two-thirds of the way through a nine-game homestand, and over those first six games, the team has started to show some signs of life. Cincinnati has gone 4-2, notching series wins over the Giants and then the Astros, and has pushed its season record back to .500 at 11-11. Even more encouraging, the Reds offense has started to awaken from its early season slumber. They scored four or more runs in all six games.
It’s nearly 24 hours later, and that one still hurts. Not that you need a reminder, but the Reds lost their game in Washington yesterday in heartbreaking fashion. After trailing 2-0 for much of the game, the Reds rallied for a pair of runs in the top of the ninth against Brad Lidge, sending the game into extra innings. So far, so good. But then in the bottom of the 10th, Dusty Baker called upon Alfredo Simon, a pitcher with a career 5.23 ERA. What followed was an unmitigated disaster, which ended abruptly on a walk-off wild pitch—not the way you want to lose a game. This one didn't belong to the Reds. Here is the play-by-play for the decisive half-inning:
After the Reds walked off with a 4-3 victory in yesterday’s series finale with the Cardinals, I heard Lance McAlister on WLW arguing that this was a “huge” win. Initially, I was skeptical. It’s a long season; can any one game in April be all that important? But by the end of McAlister’s rant, I sort of almost partially agreed with him. Not bad for talk radio.
Various news organizations have used the slogan “Tomorrow’s News Today” over the years. When you pick up a newspaper in print, however, what you’re really getting is “Yesterday’s News Tomorrow.” That’s a big part of why print publications struggle to compete in the Internet age. The 24-hour news cycle leaves them behind.
My in-laws are diehard Cardinals fans. (Yeah, I know; feel free to run me out of town on a rail at your earliest convenience.) When Joey Votto’s mega contract extension was announced earlier this week, my father-in-law posted this to Facebook: “200 million for Votto makes Pujols at 254 look almost reasonable.”