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.
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.
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.
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.