Joey Votto returns to Reds' starting lineup Saturday

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Joey Votto is back in the starting lineup for Saturday afternoon’s game against the Padres, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

Votto has been out of the lineup for each of the last three games due to a sinus infection, though he did strike out in a pinch-hit appearance against Padres’ closer Heath Bell last night.

“I just hadn’t had an at-bat in a while or hit on the field,” Votto
said. “That type of stuff tends to help. I felt like a fish out of water
there. But I’m sure I will be fine today.”

One of the favorites for the National League MVP award, the 27-year-old first baseman is batting .323/.422/.596 with 35 homers, 106 RBI and a 1.018 OPS this season.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: