Phil Hughes became just the second pitcher in Yankees history to strike out four batters in an inning when he fanned J.P. Arencibia, Adeiny Hechevarria, Anthony Gose and Brett Lawrie in the fourth Thursday against the Blue Jays.
Hechevarria reached on a Russell Martin passed ball after his strikeout, making the rare feat possible. No Yankee had ever struck out four in an inning until A.J. Burnett did so against the Rockies on June 24, 2011.
Hughes ended up with nine strikeouts over his five innings, though it was a forgettable outing otherwise. He gave up four runs before departing. Moises Sierra hit a two-run homer off him.
Of course, if a pitcher does want to go on a strikeout binge, there’s no better option than facing the bottom of the Toronto order right now. Arencibia, Hechevarria and Gose had combined to strike out 166 times in 511 at-bats this season. Lawrie, on the other hand, had a relatively modest 70 strikeouts in 437 at-bats entering the night.
We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.
Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”
Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).
Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.