Hours after the bird incident and a 9-5 Cincinnati Reds victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, a reporter asked Joey Votto if he was worried about a Randy Johnson moment.
“Of course,” Votto said. “Haunts you forever.”
Johnson had a hall-of-fame career. He will also be remembered throwing a pitch that blew up a bird, which happened to fly into the path of a pitch.
Votto was determined to avoid the same fate as he hit with the bases loaded in the third inning. He saw a black bird standing in the grass between the pitcher’s mound and home plate at Great American Ball Park. He decided to shoo it away, taking two steps toward the mound to get its attention.
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“A hitter would prefer things to be stable in their line of vision,” Votto said. “I wanted to let it know, ‘Go on. Scoot.’ I was a little concerned about PETA’s reaction, so I figured I’d back off. Then I had to make sure I got the ball in the air, and I had to make sure I didn’t hit the ball in the middle of the field on the ground. I was taking good care of the bird while I was also hitting.”
The bird did flee behind the pitcher’s mound, and two pitches later, Votto hit a grand slam that just cleared the wall in right, giving the Reds a 4-0 lead. He flapped his arms as he crossed home play to honor the bird.
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Votto hadn’t homered since May 13, a stretch of 30 games, though his numbers continue to climb. He’s hitting .302.
“I have felt good throughout,” Votto said. “I think I’ve been swinging well. (The home run) hasn’t shown up.”
Votto’s grand slam overshadowed a second straight dominant performance by Sal Romano. After allowing one run in eight innings in his previous start against the Royals, he threw seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 5.18.
“Two games in a row doesn’t take away what happened for a month straight,” Romano said. “I’ve got to take this as another good one and enjoy today and get back to work tomorrow.”
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