Votto's heads-up play helps preserve Bailey's no-no
Reds first baseman gets out via fielder's choice, likely preventing hit
CINCINNATI -- For a split second during his no-hitter against the Giants on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park, Homer Bailey panicked.
It was the seventh inning, and Bailey had just surrendered a walk to end his run at a potential perfect game. Standing on the mound facing Buster Posey with a runner on second, he didn't want to see his chances at a second career no-hitter suffer a similar fate.
Then Posey hit what should have been a routine ground ball to first base, but Bailey, who thought Joey Votto was possibly going to catch the ball on the fly, was late breaking to the bag. So Votto made a quick decision, and instead of trying to make the play at first, he threw the ball to third to try to get Gregor Blanco, who had broken from second when the batted ball hit the dirt.
"I saw him throw it, and I was like, 'What are you doing?'" Bailey said. "He ended up getting the guy, so good play."
For Bailey, the best part of the play is that it was ruled a fielder's choice, which preserved his no-hitter. And two innings later, he closed the deal by retiring Blanco in the final at-bat.
After spoiling Bailey's perfect game with the leadoff walk in the seventh, Blanco thought he had an easy path from second to third on Posey's ground ball.
"The pitcher didn't cover first base, and I was halfway [between bases]," Blanco said. "They were supposed to get the out at first base, but the pitcher didn't cover first base."
As far as no-hitters go, Bailey's was void of many outstanding plays behind him. And although Votto did nothing more than make a simple throw across the diamond, it turned out to be the biggest play of the game.
"The play that saved the no-hitter is the play that Joey Votto made," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "I don't think Homer could have beaten Posey to the bag, because he didn't break right away. He didn't cover the bag.
"That would have been a sad way to lose a no-hitter."
Jeremy Warnemuende is an associate reporter for MLB.com.