Joey Vottos returns from hiatus to extend Reds winning streak
After a 10-month hiatus, Joey Votto returned to the pitch to hit a home run and deliver a go-ahead, two-run single on Monday night. His performance led the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies, further extending their winning streak.
Votto had been missing for the entire season due to surgery in August last year to fix the rotator cuff in his left shoulder. The player released a skit on Instagram portraying a school bus driver to build anticipation for his return. In the video, while picking up one of the school kids, a young girl encouraged him to rejoin the game and leave behind his bus-driving career.
Votto was greeted with cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd when he first walked to the plate in the second inning. He took his helmet off, waved to the fans and tapped his helmet against his chest.
"The crowd reaction was surprising," the 39-year-old said. "Not to underestimate them, but you don't expect that. I feel the same way toward them. For them to reciprocate means a great deal to me. It was a memorable experience."
Following his 343rd home run, Votto rounded the bases and then emerged from the Reds dugout, wearing a celebratory Viking helmet and cape, as the crowd erupted in applause.
The last time Votto homered was before his surgery on August 6 in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Cincinnati's Kevin Newman hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first inning, giving the home team a 1-0 lead.
In the second inning, the center fielder caught Votto's hit, but Nick Senzel retaliated by hitting another home run, propelling the Reds to a 2-0 lead.
Colorado responded when Elias Diaz hit a homer down the left field line, sending the ball into the upper deck and changing the score to 2-1.
In the fifth inning, Votto returned to the plate and launched a first-pitch fastball from Austin Gomber, sending it flying over a dozen rows into the right-field seats for a solo home run, securing a 3-1 lead for his team.
The Reds then suffered both an RBI single and an RBI double, which resulted in a 3-3 tie. Colorado's Mike Moustakas proceeded to draw a bases-loaded walk, giving the Rockies a 4-3 lead.
Then, Moustakas' error on a grounder hit by Jonathan India and Elly De La Cruz's infield single placed the Reds in the right direction.
Finally, Votto stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and delivered a clutch single to center field, bringing India and De La Cruz home and the Reds a 5-4 lead. This victory marked the team's ninth consecutive win.
"He's a guy who should be applauded for what he's done in this city," Rockies manager Bud Black candidly said. "He's spent his entire career here, which is special in this day and age. That ovation was cool. Joey's been a great player for a decade-plus. It was great to see the fans of Cincinnati recognize that."
By the last season of his $251.5 million, 12-year contract, Votto has joined the ranks of 20 players who have accumulated 8,000 or more plate appearances while maintaining a batting average of .297 or higher, a stellar on-base percentage of at least .400 (.412) and a slugging percentage of at least .500 (.513).