With a hungry Tampa team in town and the brilliant Shane McClanahan on the mound, it was always going to be a tall task for what’s left of the Cincinnati Reds to squeeze out a victory in their series opener. With Joey Votto still out with a sore back and an injured list four miles long, it was evident early on that they’d need someone to lean on to have any chance on the night.
Fortunately, resident ace Luis Castillo was on the bump, and was leaned-upon early and often. And like the stalwart he’s become, Castillo neither bent nor broke, leading the Reds charge in what resulted in a 2-1 win in 10 innings.
Castillo matched McClanahan all evening, eventually exiting after a brilliant 7 innings, yielding just a lone earned run and scattering 4 hits and a walk, striking out 8 Rays on the day. His 108 pitch outing was precisely the kind of thing that the Reds need with their decimated bullpen, as it shrunk the game for them. Alexis Diaz, Hunter Strickland, and Joel Kuhnel then stepped up to the task of putting more zeroes on the board, and that set the stage for some serious drama in extras.
Kyle Farmer’s decision to throw home with nobody out in the Top of the 10th as the Rays ghost-runner broke for home on a grounder fell firmly in the spotlight as a Rays challenge of the catcher blocking the plate to keep a run off the board took seemingly longer than it should have, but somehow the ruling went in the Reds favor. A 6-3 double play then followed to escape the damage, and the Reds came to the plate in the Bottom of the 10th against former Red Matt Wisler with a chance for a third walk-off win in the last week.
They didn’t just walk-off. They balked-off.
Wisler’s balk with Tyler Naquin at the plate allowed Mark Kolozsvary to trot home as the game-winning run, and a stunned GABP erupted for Cincinnati’s 2-1 victory.
Baseball, man. Baseball.