It's hard for a baseball player not named Josh Hamilton to get noticed these days.
The Texas Rangers slugger's legendary week has been well documented, but Joey Votto did his best Josh Hamilton impression Sunday.
The Cincinnati Reds first baseman took over their game against the Washington Nationals, going 4-for-5 with a walk-off grand slam that ended a rain-delayed 9-6 win. It was his third home run of the game. He had a career-high six RBIs and 14 total bases, culminating with the game-changing moment of the week.
Votto's first-inning home run gave the Reds a lead. His second home run, in the fourth, tied the game.
It was his third and final home run though that completed the Reds' comeback and ended a two-game losing skid. It also put them back above the .500 mark and within 2.5 games of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Central.
Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the ninth, after scoring twice in the eighth, the Reds loaded the bases on a single and two walks. With two out and a 2-2 count, Votto sent a 96 mph fastball from Nationals closer Henry Rodriguez over the wall in center field.
It was the first time in major-league history that a player finished a three-homer (or four-homer) game with a game-ending grand slam, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The 2010 NL most valuable player signed a 10 year, $225 million extension with the Reds before opening day, but only had two home runs going into Sunday's game. It was the longest he had ever gone into a season before hitting his third home run. His low power numbers led to a perception around baseball that he was off to a slow start. But he was batting .296 (he's up to .319 now) and had strong numbers in other categories. Still, Sunday's performance could be the breakout performance he and the Reds have been waiting for.
"Moments like this, this is kind of the icing on the cake, but all the little grinder type things are more my style," Votto said after the game.
"That's as good a day as you'll see, probably outside of Josh Hamilton over there in Texas," Reds manager Dusty Baker said, acknowledging Votto's Hamilton-like day at the plate. "That's a game that hopefully will get us going, and you like to see Joey hot like that."
The loss ended the Nationals' three-game winning streak and dropped them out of the NL East lead. For Rodriguez, who is filling in at closer until Drew Storen returns from elbow surgery, it was his third blown save of the season.
Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton also hit a game-ending slam Sunday against the New York Mets, making it the first time in 14 years that there were two walk-off slams on one day, according to STATS.
Don't feel bad if you've never heard of Dale Thayer.
The Padres reliever has only 33 innings of big-league experience to his name over four seasons. But the 31-year-old journeyman is the temporary closer for the Padres and went three-for-three in save opportunities last week.
Thayer has 173 career saves in the minor league and now is part of a Band-Aid solution for San Diego while regular closer Huston Street is on the disabled list.
He pitched a perfect ninth on May 7 against the Colorado Rockies for his first major-league save since May 22, 2009. The next night he gave up three hits and had the go-ahead run at the plate before striking out Carlos Gonzalez to end the game.
Thayer completed his perfect week on Saturday when struck out two batters in the ninth to preserve a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, making a loser out of Roy Halladay.
It may not always be a smooth ride, but right now Thayer is getting the job done.