Chicago – 14 August 2017
Joey Votto had kept the ball rolling, game after game, with now a 19-game stretch of reaching base at least twice in each contest. Maybe Cubs manager Joe Maddon thought he had the right amount of kryptonite to make Joey Votto look more mortal at the plate. During one of Votto's plate appearances in the Reds' 15-5loss on Monday night at Wrigley Field, Maddon resorted to a recreation softball-type of alignment by using four outfielders to try and keep the Reds' first baseman off the bases. The Cubs made the unusual shift in the top of the fifth inning, with one out and nobody on.
" Votto right now is ungodly," Maddon said. " Whatever you do, you're taking chances anyhow. It's almost like Tony Gwynn when he was good and movingto be in the right spot as the ball was pitched to try to be in the right spot or to distract him. We did it in that situation for that reason."
Maddon sent third baseman Kris Bryant out to play left-center field between left fielder Kyle Schwarber and center fielder Jon Jay while Jason Heyward played right field.
With lefty Jose Quintana pitching with a 3-1 count, Votto pulled a double down the right-field line for his first hit of the game.
Votto -- who has reached safely at least twice a game for nearly three weeks -- was unaffected by the Cubs' strategy.
" No matter the infield setup, no matter the alignment of the infield or outfield, I do the exact same thing," Votto said. " It's when I get caught up in what's going on defensively when I get myself into trouble, [like] changing my approach.
" If that turns out to be a detriment to hitting balls in the outfield, then I clearly have to hit it over the outfield and into the stands. That was also something I was thinking about doing."
" That's never happened before -- that's kind of cool," said Jay. " He's an unbelievable hitter and does a lot of damage. We're just trying to defend it to that point. I think he's the perfect guy to do that against."
When Votto returned to the plate in the seventh inning with two outs, the Cubs went back to a normal defensive setup. He lined a single to right field and extended his club-record streak of reaching safely at least twice to 19 games. It's the longest of its kind since Barry Bonds did it while playing with the San Francisco Giants in 20 straight games from 20 June - 15 July 2004.
Opposing teams are not in Votto's head, he appears to be weighing on managers' minds. On Thursday vs. the Padres, skipper Andy Green pulled right-hander Kirby Yates in a 2-2 count vs. Votto and summoned lefty closer Brad Hand. It backfired as Votto walked to extend a rally that led to a Scooter Gennett grand slam.
Reds skipperer Bryan Price wasn't particularly impressed with Maddon's move against Votto.
" It's a novelty," Price said. " I don't know if they were trying to get into his head or whatever. [Votto] certainly won that battle."
There might be additional times that Votto sees four outfielders during this series. When he was leading the Rays, Maddon noted he employed the strategy against dominant lefty hitters like David Ortiz, Jim Thome and Travis Hafner./p>
" We'll continue to throw it out there when we think it's the right thing to do," Maddon said.
The idea was presented to Maddon by former Angels scout Gary Sutherland prior to the 2002 World Series. Sutherland thought this was the best way to defend Giants slugger Barry Bonds.
" But at that time nobody did crazy shifts like that," Maddon said. " So it was Gary that wanted to do that. It always stuck in my head with the Rays when we had all the charts that it didn’t make any sense to cover the other side against those guys."
Votto saw his career-high-tying 17-game hitting streak end on Sunday at Milwaukee, even though he walked twice in the 7-4 loss to keep his other streak alive. Since that streak started on July 26, he has reached base 52 times in 85 plate appearances for a .611 on-base percentage.
CHICAGO – 15 August 2017
One of baseball's best hitters today is a game away from equaling a record held by one of baseball's all-time best hitters. With three walks in five plate appearances in the 2-1 win by the Cincinnati Reds over the Cubs on Tuesday 15 August 2017, Joey Votto extended his streak of reaching safely in a game at least twice to 20 games.Baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams holds the modern Major League Baseball record (since 1900) of reaching twice or more in 21 straight games.
Williams did that for the Red Sox from 31 May - 24 June 1948. Votto's 20-game streak equals that of Barry Bonds, who did it for the Giants in 2004, and Pete Rose's streak for the Phillies in 1979. Facing Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, Votto walked with one out in the first inning. He was called out on strikes in the fourth and walked with one out in the sixth.
Later on, Votto also worked a one-out walk in the eighth off right-hander Pedro Strop, coming around to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Scooter Gennett to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. While playing in all 120 games this season, Votto is batting .316/.448/.600 with 31 home runs and 83 RBIs. He leads the Majors in on-base percentage (.448), OPS (1.048) and walks (98). During this streak, which started on July 26, Votto reached safely 55 times in 90 plate appearances for a .611 on-base percentage.
CHICAGO – 16 August 2017
The 69-year-old record streak held by Ted Williams remains his alone.
Reds first baseman Joey Votto's streak of reaching safely multiple times in a game ended at 20 games during a 7-6 loss to the Reds on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.
Votto went 1-for-4 with a first-inning single.
Williams, the Boston Red Sox great and Baseball Hall of Fame legend, owns the modern
Major League Baseball record of reaching twice or more in 21 straight games, from 31 May - 24 June 1948.
Starting from 26 July, Votto's streak equaled Barry Bonds, who did it for the Giants in 2004, and all-time hits leader Pete Rose'sstreak for the Phillies in 1979.
" All the names at the top of the list have qualities I admire as hitters," Votto said via text message. " I feel a connection to all of them because of how much they have all inspired me and how much I've learned from them."
In the first inning, Votto hit a single to right field against Cubs starter John Lackey then twice came close to hits after that.
Leading off the third inning, he tattooed a drive to right field that was caught at the back of the warning track by Jason Heyward.
Batting with two outs in the fifth inning, Votto lined a ball back to Lackey. The pitch instinctively had his glove up and made a snow-cone catch. In the seventh inning vs. reliever Brian Duensing, Votto grounded out routinely to first base.
" He's a guy who is tough to pitch to. If you hold him to a single, you call it a win," Lackey said.
In the ninth inning against Wade Davis, the Reds went down in order with No. 2 hitter in the order, Zack Cozart, making the third out with Votto on deck. Of all things, a walk-off wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth by Blake Wood prevented Votto from getting another plate appearance.
" He had every opportunity to do it," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. " I was even thinking if it got to a point, we were going to intentionally walk him at some point to keep the streak alive. Interesting night."
Votto has reached safely 55 times in his past 90 plate appearances for a .611 on-base percentage.
" That's an incredible number for 20-plus games," Reds manager Bryan Price said. " It's been sensational to watch. To see the energy he plays with as a guy who's played in every single game for us and has no desire to not play -- he comes with energy every day and it's on display -- I think is more impressive than anything."
Overall for the season, Votto is batting .315/.447/.597 with 31 home runs and 83 RBIs. He leads the Majors in on-base percentage, a 1.044 OPS and 98 walks.
" You can look at the names on that streak he's alongside, and I believe his name definitely goes right there beside those guys," Reds pitcher Homer Bailey stated. " He's somebody who is going to be here a long time and continue to have the kind of results he's had the last seven, eight years. It just goes to show his work ethic, consistency and the way he approaches his game and never alters. He's truly a special hitter."