Reviving their iconic black alternate jerseys from the early 2000s (back when Shea Stadium was inhabited by the likes of Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonso), the Mets ran into a buzz-saw by the name of Joey Votto Friday night at Citi Field. It’s a wonder teams are still pitching to the scorching-hot 37-year-old, but Mets reliever Drew Smith thought he’d give it a whirl, trying to sneak a 94-mph fastball past Votto in the sixth inning. No dice.
That, ladies and gentleman, is what you call a no-doubter. That would be Votto’s only hit of the evening but boy did he get all of it, drilling Smith’s 2-0 offering to the batter’s eye in deep center before coming to rest an impressive 423 feet from home plate.
“Locked in” would be an understatement. The former NL MVP is on an all-time heater, homering in each of his last seven games. That’s one off the major-league record shared by Ken Griffey Jr., Don Mattingly and Pirates alum Dale Long, who hung up his cleats a full two decades before Votto took his first steps. In his past 11 games, the Reds veteran has hit an obscene .439 (18-for-41) with 10 homers and 19 RBI while boosting his average from a pedestrian .249 to a much more respectable .278.
We don’t know precisely what’s gotten into Votto, but the Reds, winners of four straight and six of their last eight, sure aren’t complaining. Buoyed by Votto’s heroics, Cincinnati has quietly moved to within seven games of division-leading Milwaukee while closing the gap to four in the National League Wild Card.
It’s only a matter of time until teams start giving Votto the Bonds treatment, but if the Mets insist on tempting fate, the All-Star first baseman could etch his name in the record books Saturday in Queens, with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 PM ET.