by Matt Wilkes

Long layoff shows as lifeless Reds fall to Royals

The Reds went four full days without playing a game, and it showed in a 4-0 loss to the Royals in game one of Wednesday’s doubleheader.

Royals starter Brad Keller shut down Cincinnati batters for the second time in the last week, allowing only three singles and three walks (all to Jesse Winker). Keller didn’t allow a hit until a sixth-inning single from Tucker Barnhart.

The only threat against Kansas City came in the seventh and final inning. Winker walked to lead off the inning but was erased when Eugenio Suarez grounded into a double play on a 2-0 count. Back-to-back singles by Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama gave the Reds a two-out threat, but Josh VanMeter struck out against Royals closer Trevor Rosenthal to end it.

Things didn’t go much better on the mound.

Luis Castillo‘s day was a short one. He needed 89 pitches to get through just 3.1 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks. The right-hander was behind the eight ball right off the bat, as sloppy infield defense continued when first baseman Joey Votto dropped a low throw. A walk (that was partially to blame on an inconsistent strike zone), a double, and a two-run single later, the Royals led 3-0.

The other run came against Castillo in the fourth. Again, poor infield defense played a role. Votto couldn’t handle a ground ball from the speedy Adalberto Mondesi (it was ruled a single), who then stole second off Castillo and moved to third on a wild pitch by Tejay Antone. Second baseman VanMeter then let a ground ball go right through him (curiously ruled a base hit as well) to allow the fourth run to score.

When Royals batters weren’t swinging at his changeup early in the game, Castillo seemed to be focusing on throwing high fastballs and struggled with command. He didn’t get a swing and miss until his 32nd pitch of the game. Compounding the early issues with his fastball and changeup, the slider was ineffective for Castillo. He threw it 18 times in the game and got a combined two whiffs and called strikes.

As the game moved along, Castillo got a bit sharper, racking up 10 of his 13 total whiffs on his final 54 pitches (7 with the four-seamer, 6 with the changeup).

Aside from Winker — who now has a .507 on-base percentage — Tejay Antone was the highlight of the game, turning in another impressive relief outing. He struck out five batters in 2.2 innings, spinning nasty slider after nasty slider. He featured the breaking ball on over half his pitches, getting a whopping six whiffs on nine swings while using the pitch to get ahead of batters, too.

Here was a particularly dominant stretch of sliders that made Maikel Franco look foolish:

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Nick Castellanos: 103.6 mph | Flyout in 4th inning
  • Mike Moustakas: 103.3 mph | Groundout in 4th inning
  • Nick Castellanos: 98.5 mph | Groundout in 6th inning

Highest Velocities By Pitcher

  • Luis Castillo: 98.4 mph
  • Tejay Antone: 97.4 mph

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Nick Castellanos: 85% hit probability | Flyout in 4th inning

What’s Next?

After waiting five days between Reds games, you won’t have to wait as long this time. The Reds will take the field again at 7:55 p.m. as they face a familiar foe making his return to the big leagues, Matt Harvey (2019 stats listed for Harvey). The Royals signed Harvey to a minor-league deal on July 28. He last pitched in the majors with the Angels in 2019 and was released on July 21. Meanwhile, Reds starter Trevor Bauer will look to continue his dominance as he makes his first start since August 7.

Matt Wilkes got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.