Prior to watching today’s game, there was a lot to be excited about. For me, I couldn’t wait to see the familiar faces of Anthony DeSclafani and Curt Casali return to Great American Ball Park. By the end of the game, though, something else was on my mind. There are many valuable lessons that we learn as we walk through life. One of those lessons is learning to celebrate successes in the midst of a loss, and such is the case with today’s Reds game. In spite of a disappointing loss to the San Francisco Giants, there was one major success in today’s game that Cincinnati can get behind.
Luis Castillo is back.
For the majority of the game, the bats were fairly quiet for Cincinnati. Over the span of nine innings, the Reds were only able to bring home two runs. While there were several very hard hit balls to center, they all appeared to struggle against the wind and stay in the ballpark.
The Reds’ first run of the night came off the bat of the hot-hitting Jesse Winker, who homered against DeSclafani. Nick Castellanos followed this up with a hard-hit single to center field. The solid start quickly sputtered after a strikeout from Eugenio Suarez and a pickoff caught stealing from Castellanos. With no runners on and two outs, Tyler Naquin flew out to deep right field to end the inning.
Cincinnati had a solid chance to score during the second inning, but were unable to take advantage of it. The inning started with dual singles from Kyle Farmer and Jonathan India. With runners on first and second and no outs, run expectancy is 1.37. Unfortunately, baseball is a funny game, and DeSclafani struck out the next three hitters to hold the Reds at bay.
After a quiet third inning, Cincinnati had a very strange offensive fourth inning. Tyler Naquin started things off with a walk. This walk was followed by three flyouts to deep centerfield. Judging by the flags in the outfield, it appeared that the wind was blowing in towards the ballpark. The broadcasters surmised that this was impacting flyballs and turning possible home runs into definite outs.
The Reds’ bats picked up again in the 8th inning, in which Nick Castellanos led off with a sharp home run into left field. Unfortunately, the Reds were not able to capitalize on the momentum and brought no more runs home.
One of the more disappointing aspects of the game was the continued slump from Eugenio Suarez. Over the last week, Suarez is still only managing to get on base at a .250 clip. This was not helped by today, in which he went 0-4 with a pair of strikeouts. His power numbers are still strong (.276 ISO), so hopefully a resurgence is just around the corner.
While the Reds lost the game overall, the spirits of Cincinnati sports fans were lifted by the strong performance from Luis Castillo, who overall looked much more comfortable on the mound. Castillo started out the game very strong, throwing over 98 MPH fastballs right out of the gate. The Giants have a strong lineup, but Castillo made quick work of them in the first inning, striking out every hitter he faced.
Castillo looked strong in the second inning as well. After inducing a groundout from Evan Longoria and striking out Brandon Crawford, Castillo allowed his first baserunner by walking Wilmer Flores. This walk was followed by a double by Alex Dickerson to right centerfield. After intentionally walking Curt Casali, Castillo struck out opposing pitcher Anthony DeSclafani to end the inning.
The deluge of strikeouts followed into the 3rd inning as well. Outside of a walk to Mike Yastrzemski, Castillo struck out every hitter he faced. The Reds All-Star was cruising until the fourth inning, where the majority of the Giant’s runs were scored. After giving up two singles, Alex Dickerson hit a three-run home run over the right field wall. Interestingly enough, when one looks at the exit velocity and the launch angle of the homer, it actually only had a 35% chance of being a hit at all. Baseball is a funny game, though. Castillo followed up this home run by inducing a ground ball and striking out two more Giants. By the end of the fourth inning, Luis Castillo had struck out ten hitters–the first Reds pitcher to accomplish such a feat since Jim Maloney in 1963.
Castillo added to his strikeout total during the 5th inning. After giving up two hits, Castillo struck out Evan Longoria, bringing his K total for the day to 11.
Sean Doolittle came in to relieve Luis Castillo and did not look strong. While not giving up any runs, Curt Casali almost hit a home run over the center field wall. Again, the broadcasters guessed that the wind kept the ball in the park. Doolittle managed to get two outs, but also allowed two baserunners before his night was done.
Heath Hembree relieved Doolittle in the 6th inning and started out strong by striking out Darin Ruf. During the 7th inning, Hembree managed to get the first two hitters out before giving up a monster home run to Brandon Crawford.
Ryan Hendrix came in during the 8th inning and looked strong overall. He did not allow a single baserunner and struck out two of the three hitters he faced. This dominance continued into the 9th inning, where Hendrix struck out the first two hitters he faced and induced a weak flyout to end the inning.
Hardest Hit Balls
- Nick Castellanos: 110.5 MPH l Home Run in the 8th inning
- Tyler Naquin: 109.5 MPH l Single in the 8th inning
- Tyler Naquin: 105.5 MPH l Flyout in the 1st inning
Unluckiest Out of the Day
- Eugenio Suarez: .670 xBA l Groundout in the 8th inning
Highest Pitch Velocity by Pitcher
- Luis Castillo: 99.2 MPH Fastball
- Heath Hembree: 97.9 MPH Fastball
- Ryan Hendrix: 97.6 MPH Fastball
- Sean Doolittle: 94 MPH Fastball
Highest Pitch Spins
- Heath Hembree: 3072 RPM Curveball
Most Pitch Movement
- Heath Hembree: 47 inches vertical break l Curveball
- Luis Castillo: 22 inches horizontal break l Changeup
Team Expected Batting Averages
- Reds: .266
- Giants: .181
Although we took the loss today, Reds fans are pumped at the idea of Luis Castillo returning to form. Hopefully he can build on what he accomplished today. Until then, we have more games to play. Tomorrow, the Reds look to avoid the series loss to the Giants. Wade Miley will be facing off against Kevin Gausman. Game time is 6:40 EST.
Featured Photo: Frank Jansky (Icon Sportswire)