Votto breaks drought with grand slam as Reds beat Tigers 9-5
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
CINCINNATI (AP) — Joey Votto hit a grand slam and celebrated with a flap, honoring the bird that prolonged his at-bat.
Votto ended a long homer drought with his third career grand slam Tuesday night, powering the Cincinnati Reds to a 9-5 victory that ended the Detroit Tigers’ longest winning streak in two years.
Votto came to bat with the bases loaded in the third inning of a scoreless game. A black bird wandered between the plate and the pitcher’s mound, prompting Votto to call time so he could try to shoo it away. The bird stayed in the middle of the infield.
“He was in the line of vision and I was going to try to swat it away,” Votto said. “I was thinking, ‘Make sure to hit the ball in the air’ and ‘Don’t hit it on the ground up the middle.’ I was taking care of the bird.”
Votto’s high fly ball to right field off Matthew Boyd (4-5) had just enough to avoid the outstretched glove of Nicholas Castellanos, who reached over the wall and barely missed it. Votto flapped his arms in tribute to the bird when he crossed the plate on his first homer since May 13, ending a 30-game drought.
Votto’s last homer at Great American Ball Park was May 6. He has seven homers after hitting 36 last season, one shy of his career high.
“I would like to think it’s all part of the season,” Votto said. “I felt good. I have felt good. I’ve been swinging the bat well.”
Sal Romano (4-7) had a second straight solid outing, limiting the Tigers to four singles over seven shutout innings. Billy Hamilton also homered as the Reds pulled away to a 9-0 lead.
The Tigers had won five straight and moved within a game of .500. They haven’t been to the break-even mark since they were a season-best 4-4 on April 8. They’ve wasted five chances to get back.
Romano was coming off perhaps his best performance in the majors. He went a career-high eight innings and gave up one run during a 5-1 win at Kansas City on Tuesday.
Trailing 9-0, Detroit finally broke through in the ninth when Wandy Peralta walked home a run and Leonys Martin followed with a double.
Boyd walked three batters in four innings — all of them scored — and gave up a season-high five runs. He was most upset with the two walks that set up the first grand slam he’s allowed in his career.
“Walks will kill you,” Boyd said. “Things like that (grand slam) are going to happen in this ballpark, especially when the wind is blowing out.”
The Reds are 12-11 against the Tigers all-time. This season, the Tigers are 1-6 in interleague play. The Reds are 5-1.
BIRD IS THE WORD
The bird that wandered onto the field during Votto’s at-bat didn’t go away. It made a mound visit and later explored other parts of the field. Fans cheered when it was shown on the video board.
The outfield grass showed the effects of a concert at Great American Ball Park on Saturday, when high heat and the field covering left yellow patterns in the stressed grass.
Martin reached in all five plate appearances, going 3 for 3 with two walks. … Cincinnati’s Tucker Barnhart also reached in all five plate appearances, going 3 for 3 with a walk. He also was hit by a pitch. … Eugenio Suarez singled to extend his hitting streak to nine games, the longest active streak on the Reds and one shy of his career high.
The Reds called up RH reliever Jackson Stephens and optioned RH reliever Austin Brice to Triple-A Louisville. Stephens was 0-0 with a 4.20 ERA in nine appearances for the Reds earlier this season.
Tigers: Reliever Drew VerHagen left the game in the seventh after getting hit in the face with a throw while covering first base. He broke his nose and had it reset. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the Tigers were working on bringing up another reliever.
Reds: RH Homer Bailey will be re-examined on Tuesday. He’s been sidelined since June 2 with a sore right knee.
Tigers: Michael Fulmer (2-5) has gone seven innings and allowed one run in each of his last two starts. He’s never faced the Reds.
Reds: Tyler Mahle (5-6) is 2-0 with a 1.10 ERA in three starts in June, allowing two runs in 16 1/3 innings. He’s never faced the Tigers.