Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
In an alternate universe, Luis Castillo pitches this game for the San Diego Padres.
After that trade he was a part of to move Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to the Miami Marlins, Rea’s arm is never revealed to be toast, and Castillo sticks with the Padres. He emerges as the leader of the Padres’ increasingly terrifying group of young pitchers, and probably makes a bunch of Reds hitters look very, very silly.
Thank goodness for Cincinnati, then, that the Padres’ end of that deal turned out to be more sketchy than initially anticipated, and that Castillo stuck with Miami long enough to be traded to the Reds for Dan Straily. That’s sort of how we got to tonight, when Castillo toed the rubber for the 51st time as a member of the Reds and became the team’s third-straight pitcher to shut down the Padres on the road. Castillo threw six innings and allowed just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out nine. The one run he allowed was on a solo home run — one that broke a streak of 25.2 homerless innings for Castillo to start the season.
The natural reaction to a string of great performances early in a season is to credit them to a small sample size. But as we enter the final stretch of April, those sample sizes grow less and less small, and more and more believable. Castillo’s sample in 2019 is up to 30.2 innings — about one-sixth of what we can probably expect him to throw over a full season — and it includes 41 strikeouts, 14 walks, 13 hits allowed and just five runs. He’ll run into some trouble eventually, but it sure seems like this side of Castillo should start to be considered the rule instead of the exception.
Honorable mentions go to Raisel Iglesias, who struck out the side in the ninth to make it nine consecutive strikeouts against San Diego in this series; David Hernandez, who pitched a dandy of a shutout seventh; Jesse Winker, who dingered his sixth dinger of the season; and Jose Iglesias and Tucker Barnhart, who each recorded RBI singles.
- The first inning was a productive one as far as 2019 Reds offensive innings go. Jose Peraza broke an 0-for-22 streak with a single to center to lead off the game, advanced to second on a ground ball by Yasiel Puig, and stole third on a pitch to Matt Kemp. Kemp ultimately walked to set up runners at the corners for Jose Iglesias, who lined a single to right-center field to easily bring in Peraza. Reds led 1-0.
- Castillo’s first inning on the mound was a strong one, but his second got off to a rather bumpy start. Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer swung hard at a first pitch fastball at his letters and hit it really, really far to right-center field for a game-tying homer. San Diego put two more runners aboard before the first out could be recorded, but Castillo emerged without further damage being done. Game tied 1-1.
- Things stayed quiet until the top of the fourth, when Scott Schebler reached on an infield single with one out and advanced to second on another single by Kyle Farmer. Tucker Barnhart made it three straight hits with a ground ball through the middle to score Schebler from second, and the Reds led again, 2-1.
- Cincinnati kept it going in the fifth, when Eugenio Suarez worked a walk to start things off against Lauer. With Puig at the plate, Lauer — a notoriously dangerous pick-off artist on the mound — tried to sneak a throw over on Suarez, but threw the ball wide of Hosmer at first, and watched the ball roll long enough for Suarez to advance all the way to third base. Puig promptly hit a fly ball to right field, which allowed Suarez to tag up and score, extending the Reds’ lead to 3-1.
- With six excellent innings and 100 pitches in the books for Castillo, the Reds elected to pinch hit Jesse Winker in the pitcher’s spot to start the top of the seventh. Winker quickly rewarded that choice by pulling (!) his sixth (!!!) homer of the season into the right-center field seats off of former Red Matt Wisler. Wisler went on to retire six of the seven hitters he faced with a total of three strikeouts, but when he left, Cincinnati led 4-1.
- Robert Stephenson entered the game in the bottom of the eighth, and immediately ran into some rotten luck. Padres phenom Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a hard bouncer that hugged the third base line on the side most unfriendly toward the Reds, and by the time Matt Kemp lumbered over to get it, Tatis was sliding into third with an easy triple. After striking out Francisco Mejia, Stephenson walked Manny Machado on four pitches, then retired Hunter Renfroe on a foul pop-up. With Eric Hosmer waiting on deck, Cincinnati manager David Bell called upon the lefty Amir Garrett from the bullpen, which turned into a one-pitch appearance when Hosmer smashed his third hit of the game up the middle to score Tatis Jr. Jared Hughes entered the game and also got a first-pitch swing, but his led to an unassisted put-out at third base, and the inning ended with the Reds leading 4-2.
- Joey Votto was benched against a lefty yet again on Saturday, though this time, the Reds’ manager offered up back stiffness as an excuse for why the star first baseman wasn’t in the lineup, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Bobby Nightengale.
- No Luis Castillo start is complete with out Rob Friedman’s help, and this start provided some good ones.
Luis Castillo, Unfair Front Hip Two Seamer. pic.twitter.com/4JlyUGcVKr— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 21, 2019
Luis Castillo, Wicked 87mph Changeup (w/ trail). pic.twitter.com/OZvX6mKkwX— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 21, 2019
Luis Castillo, 96mph Fastball Movement. pic.twitter.com/yR18JmLJmE— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 21, 2019
- The Reds will suddenly go for a four-game road sweep of the Padres on Sunday, with Tyler Mahle facing Joey Lucchesi at 4:10 p.m. EST.