by Matt Wilkes

Eugenio Suarez, Luis Castillo come up clutch in win over Brewers

The Reds opened a pivotal series against the Brewers in grand fashion on Monday night, taking a 6-3 win in a clash of the titans on the mound.

Luis Castillo outdueled Brandon Woodruff in what was a low-scoring affair until the later innings, a big blow to the Brewers with their ace on the mound and a disadvantage in the next two pitching matchups.

For a time, it appeared Woodruff would get the better of the battle. Jedd Gyorko hit a solo home run in the fifth inning to give the Brewers a lead that felt much larger than 1-0 with the way Woodruff was rolling. But after several missed opportunities earlier in the game, the Reds finally broke through in the sixth with a clutch two-strike, two-out, two-run home run from Eugenio Suarez (108.6 mph, 417 feet).

That knocked Woodruff from the game, and the Reds tacked on four more insurance runs on home runs from Curt Casali and Mike Moustakas to seal the victory.

The win moved the Reds (28-27) over .500 for the first time since May 14, 2017. With the Phillies loss to the Nationals, the Reds move up to the first wild card spot and the No. 7 seed in the National League. The Reds are also a full game ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central standings and tied for second in the division after the Cardinals lost to the Royals.

On the mound, Castillo continued his dominance by striking out nine and allowing just one run, four hits, and three walks in 6.2 innings. Castillo has saved his best performances for the stretch run. He’s given up only four runs and struck out 33 in his last four starts and 28.2 innings.

Castillo has always been a ground-ball pitcher, but he’s taken it to another level lately. In his last three starts coming into tonight, he had a 64.7% ground-ball rate. The trend continued on Monday, especially early, as he got ground balls from five of the first eight hitters he faced.

In the sixth inning, he got one of his biggest ground balls of the day. He issued a leadoff walk to Christian Yelich after a hard-fought, 11-pitch at-bat. He needed only two more pitches to get out of the inning, getting Ryan Braun to pop up and Daniel Vogelbach to ground into a double play on the first pitches of their respective plate appearances.

Castillo got into some trouble again in the seventh, walking Gyorko and giving up a double to Jace Peterson — which, in fairness, was partially due to a bad route by left fielder Shogo Akiyama. Castillo bounced back to strike out Orlando Arcia before giving way to Amir Garrett, who fanned pinch-hitter Tyrone Taylor to end the inning.

Castillo’s slider was perhaps the best it’s ever been on Monday night. After sticking with his fastball and changeup the first two times through the Brewers lineup, Castillo unleashed it against right-handed hitters late in the game. Each of his last three strikeouts ended on a slider, including a three-pitch strikeout to Avisail Garcia in which Castillo threw nothing but sliders. He threw it 21 times in total and got season-high eight whiffs on 11 swings.

Garrett came back to the mound for the eighth inning, striking out Avisail Garcia and walking Yelich. David Bell then gave the ball to Raisel Iglesias, who responded by getting Braun to ground into a double play. After the Reds added on four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Bell removed Iglesias in favor of Nate Jones. Jones allowed a two-run home run to Peterson but, most imporantly, held on to the lead to secure the win.

Offensively, Suarez (2-for-3, BB) and Moustakas (2-for-3, BB) led the charge throughout the game, although it didn’t pay dividends until the late innings.

The Reds missed a golden opportunity to get on the board in the second inning. Suarez drew a leadoff walk and was followed by a Moustakas double. But they never moved. Jesse Winker hit the ball hard (97.2 mph) but was robbed of a hit (.790 xBA) on a leaping catch by Brewers first baseman Daniel Vogelbach. Brian Goodwin then struck out and Freddy Galvis grounded out to squash the threat.

The tandem of Suarez and Moustakas mounted another threat in the fourth. With one out, Suarez singled and Moustakas walked. The Reds once again couldn’t come through, as Winker grounded into an inning-ending double play.

But Cincinnati’s fortunes against Woodruff changed in the sixth inning. Nick Castellanos reached with a one-out double and moved to third on a wild pitch. Joey Votto hit the ball hard on the ground, but Castellanos couldn’t advance with a drawn-in infield. That left it up to Suarez, who hit perhaps the biggest home run of his career after getting behind 0-2 in the count. Woodruff left a fastball over the heart of the plate, and Suarez didn’t miss it, sending it 417 feet into the empty left-field seats.

Casali gave the Reds a valuable insurance run in the eighth inning, sending the first pitch he saw over the wall in left field for a solo home run (98.0 mph, 377 feet). Casali quietly has an .895 OPS and 138 wRC+ this season.

Later in the inning, Moustakas dealt the final blow with a three-run shot (98.0 mph, 383 feet) that extended the Reds’ lead to 6-1.

Having fun yet?

Reds Most Valuable Players

  • Eugenio Suarez: .365 WPA (Win Probability Added)
  • Mike Moustakas: .191 WPA
  • Luis Castillo: .188 WPA

Play of the Game

  • Eugenio Suarez: .312 WPA | Two-run home run in 6th inning

Hardest-Hit Balls

  • Mike Moustakas: 111.7 mph | Double in 2nd inning
  • Eugenio Suarez: 108.6 mph | Home run in 6th inning
  • Eugenio Suarez: 100.3 mph | Single in 4th inning
  • Mike Moustakas: 98.0 mph | Home run in 8th inning
  • Curt Casali: 98.0 mph | Home run in 8th inning

Highest Velocities By Pitcher

  • Luis Castillo: 98.5 mph
  • Raisel Iglesias: 96.6 mph
  • Amir Garrett: 96.6 mph
  • Nate Jones: 96.1 mph

Unluckiest Out of the Day

  • Jesse Winker: 79% hit probability | Lineout in 2nd inning

Expected Batting Averages

  • Brewers: .210
  • Reds: .219

What’s Next?

The Reds enter game two of the series with a clear pitching advantage. Steve Mancuso has more details on the matchup in the breakdown here.

[Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/Reds/status/1152002035077640192]

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.

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pinson343
pinson343
27 days ago

KC beats Cardinals, which does not surprise me.

pinson343
pinson343
27 days ago

Nice coverage, Matt. Castillo’s striking out Arcia with his slider in the 7th was such a huge pitch. Tying run on third, go-ahead run on second, and Arcia has good numbers against Castillo. He was the last batter Castillo would face. Arcia had laid off two sliders well out of the strike zone, with a 2-2 count he didn’t lay off that one.

pinson343
pinson343
27 days ago

Moose’s swing is looking really, really good.