LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Fans of the Bats received the perfect parting gift in the team's 2012 season finale at Louisville Slugger Field: an appearance by Reds superstar Joey Votto.
Unfortunately, they didn't get the cherry on top: a win by the home team. Or, for that matter, they didn't even get to see a complete game.
The victory went the way of the Indians. No surprise there. IL West champion Indianapolis now has 89 of them after a 2-0 triumph over the Bats in the last regular season game of the year, which was called after seven-plus innings due to rain.
Votto homered with the Bats (51-93) on Saturday at Columbus, but the former National League MVP didn't fare as well in his first appearance since 2007 at Louisville Slugger Field. Playing first base and batting third in the lineup, Votto, who was on a rehab assignment, struck out in his first two at-bats before lining out sharply to shortstop in his third. He received a rousing ovation from the Bats' faithful in each plate appearance.
Votto wouldn't get a fourth at-bat. With no outs and Indianapolis runners on first and second in the top of the eighth, the umpires directed the teams off the field as driving rain covered the field. A short delay followed before the game was called.
Indianapolis' Jeff Larish was expected to play all nine positions, but unfortunately he only got to eight because of the weather. Larish didn't get to catch. He pitched to two batters in the seventh, walking Mike Costanzo on four pitches before inducing a pop out by P.J. Phillips to end the inning.
Larish may have had a primary storyline, but the unquestioned scene-stealer was Jose Diaz. The 316-pound right-hander recorded the first two outs of the seventh before moving to second base when Larish came on to pitch. Diaz then batted in the eighth and hurled his bat all the way to shortstop Miguel Rojas on his first swing. His second resulted in a chopper to first baseman Votto, who fielded it but his throw to covering pitcher Bill Bray, which came with Votto on the ground, skipped in the dirt and allowed Diaz to chug around the bag to second base on the error.
It was Diaz's second career at-bat and first time on base. Another first came next when Diaz swiped third for the first stolen base of his career. And yet another came when Diaz scored his first career run on a Chase d'Arnaud single.
Indianapolis took pitching-by-committee to the extreme. Seven different hurlers combined for the three-hit shutout. Daniel McCutchen, the second pitcher used, was credited with the win and improved to 7-2 after throwing two scoreless innings. Larish earned the save, obviously his first of the season.
Indianapolis' pitchers faced the minimum through five innings despite allowing two hits. Phillips singled in the second but was caught stealing, and Costanzo was thrown out at second in the fifth trying for a double after barely missing a homer to left center.
Louisville missed a golden opportunity to score in the sixth after Yordanys Perez led off by getting hit by a pitch, Brian Peacock lined a hit-and-run single and Nick Christiani gave the team runners at second and third with a sacrifice bunt. A pop out and ground out to the pitcher ended the threat, and Peacock ultimately tallied the last base hit of the season for the Bats.
Tim Gustafson overcame a rocky first inning to pitch effectively for Louisville. The Indians' initial three batters reached base but only one came across to score - d'Arnaud on a double-play grounder by Matt Hague. Gustafson followed with three scoreless frames and departed before the fifth after allowing one earned run on four hits.
In making room for Votto at first base, Neftali Soto started in the outfield for the first time this season. Soto finished the year with a team-best 59 RBI. Felix Perez, who didn't play Monday, led Louisville with a .301 batting average and 118 hits. Before being promoted to Cincinnati, Denis Phipps bashed a team-high 15 homers.
Votto will return to Cincinnati hitting .342 with 14 home runs, 36 doubles and 49 RBI in 86 games with the first-place Reds.
Louisville's 93 losses set a franchise high. The 1991 Louisville Redbirds suffered 92 defeats.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.