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Reds offense erupts again, backs Luis Castillo in 11-4 win over Pirates

A homestand for the record books, and a 5th straight win!

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Cincinnati Reds Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Luis Castillo took the mound for the Cincinnati Reds on Opening Day, and did so knowing just how much of a feather in his cap that honor his. Of course, he also did so with snow flurries flying in mid-30’s temperatures, and as the radar gun readings showed at the time, he certainly didn’t look at all like his ace-esque self.

The scoreboard reflected it, and while the rest of the Reds have very much picked up the pieces since the thrashing by the St. Louis Cardinals that day, Luis had to wait a week to get his next opportunity to shine. That came Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and shine again he did.

Luis completely shut down the Pirates offense, firing 7 IP of 4 H ball with nary a run allowed. He fanned 5, walked just a lone Pirate, and did it all on an efficient 81 pitches. That’s exactly the kind of outing that earned him the OD nod in the first place, and here’s to seeing much more of this as we move further away from snow season and into the heart of baseball season.

Honorable Mentions are due to: Tyler Naquin, who socked yet another dinger; Nick Senzel, who tripled, doubled, walked, scored twice, and drove in a pair of runs; Nick Castellanos, who homered and scored twice; Jonathan India, who drove in a trio of runs, was scarily plunked in the noggin (and was fortunately OK), and singled; Kyle Farmer, who swatted a 2-run double; Mike Moustakas, who singled, walked twice and scored twice; Tyler Stephenson, who dingered; Aristides Aquino, who dingered, too; and Joey Votto, who singled, walked, and scored twice.

(Did I just list basically the entire Reds lineup? Yes, yes I did.)

Key Plays

  • The socking of the dingers will continue in perpetuity for Naquin, it would appear, as the belted yet another as the leadoff for this game, too. He lifted it just over the RF wall for an oppo-shot to make it 1-0 early, but the Reds didn’t stop there. Castellanos reached via error before Pirates starter Chad Kuhl walked three Reds in a row to force in another run, while India later lifted a sac-fly into CF to score Votto to make it 3-0. Farmer then stepped in for his first PA as a starting SS and deposited a 2-run doubled down the RF line, and the Reds had given Castillo a 5-0 lead.
  • The Pirates threatened to threaten in the Top of the 4th with a pair of doubles, but as Wilmer Difo tried to score on Phillip Evans’ double into the RF corner, Castellanos and India combined for a perfect relay throw to catcher Tyler Stephenson, who tagged out Difo to keep the score 5-0. Holy defense, Batman!
  • The Bottom of the 5th saw the Reds play add-on, and once again it was Castellanos pulling the strings. Chris Stratton had taken over the pitching duties for Pittsburgh, and he left a meatball over the plate that Nick belted the other way for a solo shot into the RF seats. Later, Votto smoked a single into RF that was followed by a Senzel double to put a pair of runners in scoring position, and both then scored on a 2-ribbie double single by India to make it an 8-0 game.
  • Senzel’s triple followed Moose’s single in the Bottom of the 7th, the three-bagger driving in the Reds 9th run of the game.
  • Stephenson and Aquino tied a bow on the Reds scoring with back to back solo jacks in the Bottom of the 8th, making it an 11-0 game.
  • The lone blemish on the day came in the Top of the 9th, and it again came thanks to some unusual Amir Garrett struggles. A double, walk, and single loaded the bases, which then promptly became unloaded when Erik Gonzalez socked a grand slam into the RF seats. That left it an 11-4 game, which is fortunately how it ended.

Tony Graphanino

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • Cincinnati’s offense is setting records all over the place to start the season. I’d list them all here, but you’d have to find a nice comfy chair. Nick Senzel has scored more runs than anyone, Tyler Naquin has more ribbies than anyone, the Reds have the most players with multiple dingers at this point in the season than they’ve ever had, they’ve scored more runs through 6 games than ever, and basically everything that Jonathan India has done has smashed Reds rookie records up and down the history books. It’s been a real one of a week, and it’s been glorious...
  • A duly-deserved nod to Lucas Sims is in order, as he looked filthy in a perfect 8th inning out of the bullpen.
  • I’m sure there have been homestands here and there throughout Reds history that have been dominant, that have featured copious blowout wins, and than have had the entire fanbase rocking, but I’m not sure there’s been one this dominant or this well-timed. After their malaise all winter (and for most of the last decade) and the brutal nature of 2020 as a whole on our psyche, the jolt from this team the last week has been a figurative shot the arms for those of us that spend an inordinate amount of time invested in it. Thanks for that, Reds.
  • The Reds will get an off-day on Thursday, perhaps the only thing that can keep them from socking dingers on the regular these days. On Friday, they’ll descend on the Land of the Endless Strip Mall for a weekend series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, with first pitch of the series opener set for a #LateNightReds 9:40 PM ET. Tyler Mahle will get his second start of the season, while the Snakes have yet to post their probable starter.
  • Tunes.