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Mariners' Yusei Kikuchi fools Reds' Joey Votto on breaking ball K

By Alex Butler
Mariners' Yusei Kikuchi fools Reds' Joey Votto on breaking ball K
Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto is widely-known as one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball, but he took a big swing and miss on a Yusei Kikuchi breaking ball during a loss to the Seattle Mariners on Monday in Peoria, Ariz. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Seattle Mariners lefty Yusei Kikuchi made Joey Votto look silly, using a nasty breaking ball to strike out the All-Star in a win against the Cincinnati Reds.

The exchange occurred in the top of the first inning during the Mariners' 11-3 spring training triumph on Monday at Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Ariz. Kikuchi had Votto facing a 2-2 count with one out in the frame.

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Seattle's southpaw eyed the career .311 hitter before throwing in the payoff pitch. The ball came in very high, before falling off of a cliff in front of Votto. The Reds star missed the ball as he unleashed a big swing.

Votto was 0-for-2 on the day with two strikeouts. Kikuchi surrendered two unearned runs and a hit, while tossing a strikeout and allowing a walk in two innings of action. The 27-year-old is playing in his first Major League Baseball season after coming over from the Japan Pacific League in January. Kikuchi signed a three-year deal with the Mariners, which could extend to seven seasons.

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"Pretty good," Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters, when asked about Kikuchi's outing.

"Better than pretty good. That was outstanding. First time out there, he had a little nerves, no doubt about it. But his fastball was really good, he was up to 95 [mph], the breaking pitches we know are outstanding. I thought he handled it really, really well."

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Votto told MLB.com that he was also impressed by the lefty.

"Very good curveball," Votto said. "It's very surprising. In the league right now, there are not many pitchers that throw a curveball like that. [Hyun-Jin] Ryu for the Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw from the Dodgers. Maybe a couple of others that throw a very traditional curveball like that from the left-hand side. It has lots of potential."

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The Mariners host the Texas Rangers in another spring training clash at 3:10 p.m. on Tuesday in Peoria.

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