Sunday, June 11

Luis Castillo has strong start in Reds’ walk-off win

CINCINNATI — Luis Castillo accomplished two things at once on Friday night vs. the Rays. The Reds starting pitcher again gave scouts from contending clubs an electric performance that should make him even more attractive for a trade.

Castillo also gave Reds fans even more reason to miss him if he is dealt as he pitched to a no-decision during a 2-1 win in 10 innings over Tampa Bay at Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati ended the game with a walk-off balk called on reliever Matt Wisler at the bottom of the 10th.

“I felt really good, especially that I feel like I’ve been able to contribute a lot to this team and give them the opportunity to win,” Castillo said via translator Jorge Merlos. “But we just have to keep battling out there and continue working.”

Working opposite one of the best starting pitchers the American League has to offer in Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan, Castillo demonstrated he was more than ready for a match of aces.

“The Tampa Bay Rays are a really good team as well. To face someone like their pitcher is really emotional. To be part of these starts has been really great for me,” Castillo said.

Castillo gave up one earned run and four hits over seven innings with one walk and eight strikeouts while throwing 108 pitches. McClanahan countered with one earned run and three hits over six innings with two walks and eight strikeouts to bring down his AL-leading ERA to 1.73.

Over his last three starts, Castillo has a stingy 0.90 ERA with two earned runs over 20 innings, five walks and 25 strikeouts. The key has often been the effectiveness of his four-seam fastball, which averaged 97.8 mph on Friday, according to Statcast.

Three of Castillo’s four highest four-seamer whiff totals this season have been in his last four starts. Of 26 swings the Rays took on 45 four-seam fastballs, they whiffed nine times.

“When you’re confident in your pitches and you can throw it where you want to, you know you’re going to get those results,” Castillo said.

Both starters allowed their lone runs in the third inning. In the top half, Castillo gave up a one-out double to Yandy Díaz, and he scored on Ji-Man Choi’s line-drive single through the middle.

Cincinnati scored its run more efficiently off McClanahan. Given the green light on a 3-0 count against McClanahan, Brandon Drury slugged a two-out home run to left field. It extended Drury’s team and career highs with 18 homers this season.

After Choi’s RBI hit, Castillo retired the next nine batters in a row and 13 of his last 14. On his final pitch, he struck out René Pinto with a 98 mph fastball.

“Those guys were really good,” Reds manager David Bell said of the starters. “Of course we’re familiar with Luis and he has to be near the top right now with the run that he’s on. He’s shown that for a long time now.”

Overall, Castillo is 3-4 with a 2.92 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 12 starts this season.

“He’s got good stuff, but I think it’s just his presence on the mound,” Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer said. “He doesn’t get intimidated by anybody. Just out there having fun. When you’re out there having fun and you have 98, 99 in the back pocket, it makes your job a lot easier.”

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