The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
With their best pitcher on the mound, against a Milwaukee Brewers squad that’s currently without the services of Christian Yelich, Corey Knebel, Ryan Braun, Eric Thames, and Manny Pina, and finally in an environment that wasn’t freezing, Monday’s Cincinnati Reds game had all the makings of a potential get-right game.
That sure proved to be the case, and Luis Castillo was the driving force behind it. Look, his 7th inning turned out to be worst-case scenario for his final line, but the fact is he fired 6 innings of scoreless, 2-hit ball, fanning 8 against just 2 walks as he bumped up against the 100 pitch mark.
His final line - 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 8 K on 107 pitches - fails to tell the story of how completely dominant he was before trying to get through that last inning, as he was 100% as dominant then as he has shown he could be in the past. Getting that back in the expectations every five days will do a number on all of our hearts as the season moves forward.
(Oh yeah...he singled in a run and scored himself, too.)
Honorable Mentions are due to: Billy Hamilton, who had a pair of hits, walked, drove in 3, and scored; Adam Duvall, who doubled twice, singled, scored, and drove in a run; Joey Votto, who singled, doubled, and drove in a run; Phil Ervin, who went 2 for 5 with a double and a pair of runs scored; and Wandy Peralta, who fired a perfect 8th inning in relief (with a K).
- The Reds finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally strung together some hits in the Top of the 2nd, and it gave them their first early-game cushion of the season. Finally. Ervin got things started with a 1-out double to the wall in right-center, and he scored a batter later on Tucker’s single up the middle. Phil Gosselin followed with a single, both runners moved up on a bunt, and the slugging Hamilton brought them both in with a single into RF. Reds led, 3-0, finally.
- Oliver Drake took over on the mound for Milwaukee in the Top of the 6th, and the Reds promptly greeted him with a whoopin’. Back to back doubles - the first from Duvall, and the second from Scooter Gennett - scored a run. Scooter was then immediately nailed in a rundown on an Ervin grounder, but that left Phil on 1B - and after a Barnhart groundout moved him up and the Brewers chose to intentionally walk Gosselin to get to Castillo, the Cincinnati pitcher slapped a single down the RF line to make that backfire and plate another and leave runners on the corners. That brought up Billy, who poked a single into CF to add another run, and after a wild pitch put runners at 2B and 3B, Jose Peraza cleared the bases with a double into the LF corner. Votto then cranked his first XBH of the season, a double to the wall in CF that brought Peraza in, and the Reds held a mighty 9-0 lead.
- Castillo finally ran into trouble in the Bottom of the 7th, eventually loading the bases with a walk to Jacob Nottingham that featured an incredible squeezing from the home plate umpire. That brought reliever Jorge Lopez to the plate - hitting for himself due to the blowout in place - and naturally he cracked a 2-run double into CF that chased Castillo from the game. Cody Reed took over, for some reason, and promptly threw a wild pitch that allowed another run to score before serving up a meatball for an RBI single to Jonathan Villar. Reds led, 9-4.
- Duvall’s second double of the night brought in Hamilton in the Bottom of the 8th, as he dumped a laser into the LF corner to bring around Billy - who had walked earlier in the inning. Reds led, 10-4, and the bullpen kept things that way until the finish.
- Jesse Winker snuck back into the hitting portion of playing, getting a pinch-hit appearance tonight after pinch-running last night. He walked, and hopefully that means he’s that much closer to being back in the starting lineup.
- Votto’s 1st inning single was the 1600th hit of his career.
- Sal Romano will look to refine his early season performance on Tuesday in a fashion similar to how Castillo did on Monday. He’ll start for the Reds opposite Milwaukee starter Junior Guerra, with first pitch again scheduled for 7:40 PM ET.