Votto foils shifty Cubs with remarkable double

Reds veteran avoids 4 outfielders, while reaching base at least twice in 19 straight games, 2 shy of MLB mark

August 15th, 2017

CHICAGO -- Maybe Cubs manager Joe Maddon thought he had the right amount of kryptonite to make Joey Votto look more mortal at the plate. During one of Votto's plate appearances in the Reds' 15-5 loss on Monday night at Wrigley Field, Maddon resorted to a recreation softball-type of alignment by using four outfielders to try and keep the Reds' first baseman off the bases.
The Cubs made the unusual shift in the top of the fifth inning, with one out and nobody on
"Votto right now is ungodly," Maddon said. "Whatever you do, you're taking chances anyhow. It's almost like Tony Gwynn when he was good and moving when the ball was pitched to try to be in the right spot or distract him."
Votto threw a foul ball deep into the stands
Maddon sent third baseman out to play left-center field between left fielder and center fielder while played right field.
With lefty pitching and a 3-1 count, Votto pulled a double down the right-field line for his first hit of the game.
Votto -- who has reached safely at least twice a game for nearly three weeks -- was unaffected by the Cubs' strategy.
"No matter the infield setup, no matter the alignment of the infield or outfield, I do the exact same thing," Votto said. "It's when I get caught up in what's going on defensively when I get myself into trouble, [like] changing my approach.
"If that turns out to be a detriment to hitting balls in the outfield, then I clearly have to hit it over the outfield and into the stands. That was also something I was thinking about doing."

"That's never happened before -- that's kind of cool," said Jay. "He's an unbelievable hitter and does a lot of damage. We're just trying to defend it to that point. I think he's the perfect guy to do that against."
When Votto returned to the plate in the seventh inning with two outs, the Cubs went back to a normal defensive setup. He lined a single to right field and extended his club-record streak of reaching safely at least twice to 19 games. It's the longest of its kind since Barry Bonds did it for the Giants in 20 straight games from June 20-July 15, 2004.

And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Ted Williams holds the modern Major League record (since 1900) with reaching at least twice in 21 consecutive games for the Red Sox from May 31-June 24, 1948. Votto -- who added a single in the top of the ninth -- was not concerned with the streak, however.
"My objective is to play a good game every day," he said. "I'm trying to get on base 5-out-of-5 times or 4-out-of-4 times. I'm not thinking about streaks or anything like that. I want to play to my potential. I want to get better as a player."

Votto saw his career-high-tying 17-game hitting streak end on Sunday at Milwaukee, but he walked twice in the 7-4 loss to keep his other streak alive. Since that streak started on July 26, he has reached base 52 times in 85 plate appearances for a .611 on-base percentage.
If opposing teams aren't in Votto's head, he appears to be weighing on managers' minds. On Thursday vs. the Padres, skipper Andy Green pulled right-hander in a 2-2 count vs. Votto and summoned lefty closer Brad Hand. It backfired as Votto walked to extend a rally that led to a Scooter Gennett grand slam.
Reds manager Bryan Price wasn't particularly impressed with Maddon's move against Votto.
"It's a novelty," Price said. "I don't know if they were trying to get into his head or whatever. [Votto] certainly won that battle."
There might be additional times that Votto sees four outfielders during this series. When he was leading the Rays, Maddon noted he employed the strategy against dominant lefty hitters like David Ortiz, Jim Thome and Travis Hafner.
"We'll continue to throw it out there when we think it's the right thing to do," Maddon said.