December 1, 2022

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Like Reds, Votto waiting to catch 'the beat'

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SAN DIEGO — It was a West Coast swing without mercy for the struggling and ailing Reds.

Owners of the Major Leagues’ worst record, the Reds saw their losing streak reach nine games with a 6-0 defeat against the Padres on Wednesday at Petco Park to complete a winless seven-game road trip.

“Yeah, it sucks,” shortstop Kyle Farmer said. “I know how the fans feel in Cincinnati. Obviously we feel the same way. We’ve just got to get back to the basics and keep working.”

It’s the 2-11 club’s longest losing streak since June 9-18, 2017.

“It’s a really not good feeling, obviously,” Reds first baseman Joey Votto said. “Embarrassing. Very frustrating. It feels like it’s been like Groundhog Day over the last couple of weeks. It’s been one of the uglier stretches I remember experiencing in a Reds uniform. We need to be much, much better.”

Offensive struggles persist
The Reds, who rank 30th out of 30 clubs with a .524 OPS, scored 10 runs total on the trip. During the losing streak, they briefly held two leads on a pair of Tommy Pham first-inning home runs on Monday and Tuesday. Both leads lasted a half-inning each.

“You just keep playing, keep playing and stay positive the best you can and keep working at it,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We have to use this time to get better. The way you handle it will dictate that.”

Cincinnati tried to be aggressive on the bases during the fourth inning Wednesday. In a still scoreless game, Votto lined a one-out single to left-center field off rookie MacKenzie Gore and was on second base with two outs when Colin Moran hit a soft single on the ground to left field. As Jurickson Profar scooped up the ball, third-base coach J.R. House didn’t hesitate waving around Votto.

Profar made a perfect throw to the plate to nail the sliding Votto for the third out.

“You have to send him there,” Bell said. “We come up with a two-out hit and they have to make a perfect throw and a perfect tag. You can’t wait around to find out.”

Playing with four regulars out of the lineup and 13 overall on the injured list, the Reds didn’t get another runner into scoring position for the rest of the game.

Votto remains positive about his approach
Votto’s single was only his sixth hit of the season and he’s batting .133 with a .406 OPS and no homers. He walked in his first plate appearance vs. Gore but struck out in his final two at-bats against the Padres’ bullpen.

“You know what, all year I haven’t timed a fastball, Spring Training included,” Votto said. “That, to me, is obviously an important step. How do I feel? I feel optimistic and motivated, but I haven’t timed a really good fastball and squared anything up.”

Votto, who hit 36 homers with 99 RBIs last season, remains optimistic.

“It’s going to happen at some point,” he said. “It’s a lot like dancing. You wait until you catch the rhythm, and then when you do, you’re completely in sync, you feel completely connected with the music. I’m just kind of, slightly out of step. I have the technique. I know how to dance to the song, but I’m waiting for my beat. I just haven’t caught the beat, but it’s happening soon. When it happens, then it stays with me for months, as long as I’m healthy. 

“I was really happy with today, to be honest with you, personally. I don’t like the last two at-bats, missed fastballs, but I really liked how well I competed against Gore. He’s a tough at-bat.”

One pitch foils Gutierrez
Reds starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez had a no-hitter through three innings but finished with three earned runs and two hits allowed over 4 2/3 innings with four walks and two strikeouts.

“I really like where Guty is right now,” Bell said. “He’s got to keep doing that, keep going, keep getting better. He’s using his fastball really well, changing speeds. Really, he’s using all his pitches.”

Following a pair of one-out walks in the first inning, Gutierrez escaped when Eric Hosmer grounded to second base for a double play. However, on the heels of throwing out Votto, Profar hit a two-out, two-run homer to right field on a first-pitch fastball in the bottom of the fourth.

“[We] called for the pitch to be in, and the ball just came over the plate and he got good contact on it,” Gutierrez said via translator Jorge Merlos. “I tried to locate it well, but on that pitch, it’s the one that cost me the game right there.”

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