CINCINNATI -- For the first time in 2020, the Reds played extra innings and got to experience the new rule that opens each half-inning with a runner placed on second base. It wound up playing right into Cincinnati's hands.
Speedy Nick Senzel, who made the last out of the ninth inning, opened the 10th on second base with the best portion of the lineup to follow. It didn't take long to break through. After Nick Castellanos' leadoff walk, Joey Votto lifted a high double off the wall in center field. Senzel had to wait to see if it was caught, but he sped home in plenty of time for a 6-5 walk-off win over the Royals on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.
“We get the fastest guy on there. Joey put a good swing on it. Luckily, it found the wall and bounced off. It was good," said shortstop Kyle Farmer, who was 2-for-4.
Lucas Sims pitched a scoreless top of the 10th inning with a two-out walk for the win.
Here are three takeaways from the victory.
Votto happy, but also not happy
In the top of the third inning, Luis Castillo was pitching with a 2-0 lead, but back-to-back errors by third baseman Eugenio Suárez and Votto at first base led to a bases-loaded rally and an unearned run scoring on Ryan O'Hearn's RBI single off the left-field wall. A nice play on the carom and a quick throw by Jesse Winker saved another run from scoring.
Votto was still down on himself for the miscue on a grounder hit to him by Hunter Dozier. To him, the walk-off winner didn't make up for it.
"All we do is try to win, of course, so I’m very, very happy. The goal has been met, achievement unlocked today, right? We got the win," Votto said. "When I made that error today, it was especially frustrating, because it was such a crucial time and it was such a very easy play. I was very, very frustrated. I was embarrassed. All I thought about is, ‘How I am going to solve this?’ And then I started thinking about my routine, work and speaking with coaches and making adjustments."
But redemption certainly came in the 10th, when Votto connected on reliever Josh Staumont's first-pitch sinker. The ball, which Statcast recorded leaving the bat at 101 mph, nearly carried over the fence and was almost caught by center fielder Brett Phillips.
"I thought it’d be a homer, but I’m very happy about it," Votto said. "It was one of my best swings in years. I was ecstatic about it that I came through that moment -- yes, of course, that’s great and that’s what we are trying to do collectively -- but I was really happy with the swing, like really, really, really happy with the swing. It was good. I was very happy about where it landed specifically."
Reds players couldn't contain themselves to follow social distance guidelines, but Winker was on hand with hand sanitizer.
"I think we broke a lot of rules," Votto said. "It was just instinct and we were happy. That’s exactly how it should be, right?"
Farmer's defense was big
Before this season, Farmer had logged just one Major League inning at shortstop and 10 games there in the Minors. But the utility player spent 211 games there while at the University of Georgia, and he reminded manager David Bell he could play there. Bell obliged and was impressed enough to make Farmer -- who can play every infield spot and catcher -- the primary backup to Freddy Galvis.
"It just feels comfortable. I feel at home," Farmer said of playing shortstop. "I’ve been playing there since I was freaking four years old. It’s fun. It makes it fun for me to go out there and play short, and it’s been a dream of mine forever."
Farmer started for Galvis on Tuesday and made the defensive play of the game. Reliever Nate Jones had the bases loaded and a 5-3 lead when O'Hearn zipped a hot grounder at 102.8 mph to Farmer up the middle. Farmer backhanded the ball on one hop from his knees, touched second base and fired to first base for the inning-ending double play.
“I’ve played against O’Hearn since rookie ball," Farmer said. "I knew he hits the ball hard every time. Luckily, I’ve got a good coach in Freddie [Benevides] and Bop [Delino DeShields] hitting me ground balls. I’ve done that play a bunch of times. I was fortunate enough that it didn’t hit a speck of dirt or anything and bounced on the way. That just comes with practice and preparation.”
Winker on a tear
Winker reached base three times and joined Matt Davidson for back-to-back home runs in the third inning. In his past seven games, he is batting .579 (11-for-19) with two homers, two doubles and three RBIs to raise his batting average from .087 to .310.