Richview Collegiate grad Joey Votto was having a great post season, but that will likely be little consolation for him after his Cincinnati Reds lost the fifth and deciding game of their opening round National Baseball League series against the San Francisco Giants.
The Reds blew a 2-0 lead in the series, despite some lofty numbers put up by the first baseman both in the series as a whole and in the crucial final game which the Reds lost 6-4.
Over the five games, Votto, 29, was again amongst the league leaders in almost every offensive category, including a .389 average which he manufactured on seven hits in 18 at-bats. And if you throw in his four base-on-balls, his on-base percentage rises to a league-leading .500.
Two of his seven hits came at key junctures in the final game in the seventh and ninth innings, extending potential Reds’ rallies.
For Votto, who grew up learning his trade with the Etobicoke Rangers at Etobicoke’s Connorvale Park, it marked a huge improvement over his first taste of the post season two years ago when he managed only one hit in 10 at-bats over three games.
“We came up short,” Votto said in an interview on the team’s website. “This was a series where we can either paint this organization with a failure brush or we can take it and learn from it and improve.”
He took consolation in his team’s near comeback in the deciding game following a disastrous fifth inning in which San Francisco scored all six of their runs, thanks in large part to a grand slam homer by Buster Posey.
“We showed resilience. Hopefully we use what we learn from this and it makes us tougher, makes us hungrier and makes us better. I think that it will.”
Votto’s inspired play continued from the regular season in which he also posted spectacular numbers despite missing 48 games due to a knee injury which required surgery.
Many of his offensive stats would have put him in the running for individual offensive titles, including his .337 batting average, but his 475 plate appearances fell just short of the required number, which is basically 502.
Two Etobicoke Rangers alumni who played for the same Etobicoke team back in their Grade 10 year have just shared another baseball milestone.
Both players suited up in their respective fifth and final games in the opening round of the Major League Baseball playoffs.
Unfortunately, for both players, however, the result was also the same: defeat.
The players, both 29 years of age, are first baseman Joey Votto for the Cincinnati Reds and catcher George Kottaras for the Oakland Athletics.
There the similarities start to end.
Votto is born and raised in Etobicoke, graduating at Richview Collegiate and spending many years in the Etobicoke Rangers organization. And he’s one of baseball’s top stars, churning out top offensive numbers and enjoying one of baseball’s richest contracts – $225 million over 10 years.
Kottaras, on the other hand, grew up in Markham, attending Milliken Mills High School – but did enjoy a stint with the Rangers in his youth. And he more accurately can be described as a journeyman (albeit a journeyman at the major league level which is still nothing to scoff at).
For the record, the Etobicoke Rangers actually boasted one other alumni at the major league level this season – pitcher Shawn Hill, 31, who suited up for the Toronto Blue Jays, albeit in only one game. But like Kottaras, he is not an Etobicoke native, growing up in Georgetown and attending Bishop Reding Secondary School in Milton.
And how did they do? Here’s a brief synopsis:
VOTTO: his numbers for both post-season and regular season were phenomenal – worthy of his contract.
KOTTARAS: In Oakland’s five post-season games, Kottaras played most of game two, until subbed out in the ninth inning, and did spot duty as a ninth inning replacement in each of the first, fourth and fifth games. He did not appear in the second game. In the regular season he hit .211 in 85 games split between Milwaukee and Oakland. Lifetime, in 249 major league games over the past five seasons he has averaged .220.
HILL: Hill’s late-season three-inning stint on Sept. 29 in relief of Ricky Romero, who had to leave after three innings due to injury, was enough to get him the win (Jays beat the New York Yankees 3-2). Hill is a long-serving veteran – the 16th and last Canadian to ever appear for the now defunct Montreal Expos. But injuries over the years – including two of the so-called ‘Tommy John’ surgeries – have limited his major league appearances to 45 games (all starts) over seven years in which he has compiled a 10-18 record.