Thursday April 9th, 2015

It hasn’t been a dull start to the young MLB season, but baseball was missing one thing going into Wednesday: a walk-off hit.

Joey Votto ended that mini-drought early Thursday morning, shooting a single into rightfield in the bottom of the 11th inning to score Zack Cozart and give the Reds a 5-4 win over the division-rival Pirates.

(GIF: @FlyByKnite)

The prevailing emotion following Votto’s winner: relief. A game scheduled to start at 7:10 p.m. ET didn’t get going until 9:45 due to a rain delay that lasted more than two and a half hours, and the fact the game went into an 11th inning meant Votto’s game-winner didn’t come until 1:46 a.m. ET. And if that weren’t already grueling enough, the Reds and Pirates are scheduled to play at 12:35 p.m. on Thursday to finish off their series.

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​Votto added a walkoff of a different kind shortly after his hit, clearly in a hurry to run home and get some rest. While doing a postgame TV interview, in the middle of a question, Votto suddenly looked at the reporter with a smile on his face, asked him if he liked his new haircut—Votto has a shaved head—and then ran away laughing.

After a four-hour, one-minute game, you can forgive Votto if he was a little slap-happy.

Votto went 2-for-6 on the night, adding another RBI single in the seventh inning to tie the game at 4-4. It had already turned into a battle of bullpens by then. Pittsburgh starter Gerrit Cole lasted just five innings, while Mike Leake went 5 2/3 for Cincinnati.

The walkoff, the ninth of Votto’s career, came off Radhames Liz, who hadn’t appeared in the majors since 2009. Liz was the last pitcher in the bullpen for the Pirates.

J.J. Hoover got the win for the Reds after pitching two scoreless innings, snapping a streak of 10 consecutive losing decisions for the reliever. Billy Hamilton added three hits and three stolen bases for Cincinnati.

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