Facing any old pitcher, even a Cy Young candidate, and slugger Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds has a chance to do some serious damage. Send him to the batter's box against a position player trying to mop up a blowout, and Votto crumbles like bleu cheese on a salad.
With Votto's team ahead by six runs in the ninth inning Wednesday night, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Travis Snider came on for three outs to save manager Clint Hurdle from using another actual relief pitcher. It was the first mound appearance for a Pirates position player since 2004. Snider's overall results weren't so hot: He allowed two runs, one hit and two walks in the 11-4 defeat.
But he also struck out Votto on a 77 mph cut (?) fastball. It gave the sparse remaining crowd at PNC Park something to cheer about. And Votto had come up empty, again, against a supposedly inferior opponent.
"In a situation like that, the competitive juices take over and you just want to compete, get out of that inning without another guy having to take the ball," Snider said. "It was a little tough on the ERA (18.00), but it was a lot of fun."
Not for everyone. A four-time All-Star and NL MVP for the 2010 season, Votto fell to 0 for 3 in his career against position players on the mound. It's only three plate appearances, and therefore a small sample size, but... say it ain't so, Joe!
The other instances of Votto making an out against a position player are less embarrassing:
• In 2010, Votto flied out deep to center against utility infielder Joe Inglett of the Milwaukee Brewers.
• In 2010, Votto did the same against Wilson Valdez of the Phillies, who actually got the victory with a scoreless 19th! Watch:
Votto just missed the pitch against Valdez. It must be tough for any hitter to face a non-pitcher in a situation like that because, whatever happens, the batter is supposed to get a hit. That's just not the way baseball works, though. Too much random stuff happening. Speaking of which, Votto is overdue to get on base against a mop-up guy. Do you think he's looking forward to another opportunity someday, or is he hoping it never comes? After all, one stat that's worse than 0 for 3, is 0 for 4.
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