Luis Castillo improves in Cincinnati loss to San Francisco

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The Cincinnati Reds may have won a small win in their 4-2 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.

Luis Castillo finally took a step forward – or, in his estimation, three steps forward.

“I just had a lot of confidence in all four places,” said Castillo, according to team interpreter Jorge Merlos. “You know, when you feel great with all four fields, you can throw them at will and attack any batsman however you want.”

Cincinnati Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart (16) smiles after visiting the mount to play with starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) in the second inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants at Great American Ball Park to speak in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The Giants led 3-1 to the top of the sixth.

All the components that made Castillo a starter on the team’s opening day were on display. His fastball touched 99 mph. His move looked as good as it did all year. Its slide was almost inviolable.

Former Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani beat Castillo on his return to the Great American Ball Park, but Castillo eventually looked closer to his usual self. Castillo knocked out a season high of 11 batters in five innings, allowing three runs with six hits and two accidental walks.

“We saw (Castillo) like that and excluded people,” said Reds manager David Bell. “You give Giants the honor of having a few runs away from him because his stuff is as good as any other and he had it tonight.”

What kept Castillo from winning was the fourth inning. Brandon Crawford opened with a first-pitch single-to-left field. Mauricio Dubón followed with a single on the first pitch in the middle left. Then, on Castillo’s fifth inning pitch, Alex Dickerson made a move over the right field fence for a three run homer.

Just like that, the Giants had a 3-1 lead.

“Probably the only place all night, frankly, that didn’t run,” said catcher Tucker Barnhart. “But I will live and die with his alternation every day of the week.”

DeSclafani, who has a 2.03 ERA in nine starts, didn’t need much more help. He allowed a run and six hits over seven innings, hitting seven. His only flaw was a lead-off homer from Jesse Winker, the third lead-off homer from Winker that season.

In the first inning it was clear that it would be a different kind of day for Castillo. He hit the side in 16 pitches. He induced five swings and failures. Hitters appeared to be blindfolded trying to get his change as it pulled away from the bats.

By the third inning, Castillo had eight high-time strikeouts. He overcame Giants hitters: 14 whiffs, six foul balls and two balls in play. The 14 whiffs were a season high and he had only thrown 55 pitches.

“When you watch him you definitely get the feeling,” said Bell. “When he watched his body language, watched his reaction, and saw how he was in the dugout, you could tell he was feeling that. He felt like something that had clicked.

“It didn’t just end in the first inning. As I spoke to the coaches and watched his work on the side, there were steps to get to this point that I don’t think either of us was surprised. I’ll be for Luis say I think we were relieved that he finally felt that on the hill. “

The 11th goal of the night will be counted for the Cincinnati Reds, who featured in the fifth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 18 Pitcher Luis Castillo (58) will start 2021. The Giants led 3-1 at the top of sixth place.

Castillo is the type of pitcher who thrives on swings and misses. There were too many pitches over the heart of the slab this season. He started on Tuesday with a 7.71 ERA. He had allowed at least four deserved runs in more than half of his starts.

For the past few weeks, Castillo’s teammates and coaches have insisted he was on the verge of returning to an elite level. They felt like the signs were there, even if the results were ugly. Castillo remained positive despite giving up 32 MLB leading runs.

“We have a lot of people in this clubhouse who, good or bad, are the same every day,” said Barnhart. “It’s one of the biggest compliments I can give a man I play with. I wish I could do better.”

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) celebrates at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati as he walks to the field after the first inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, May 18 , 2021. The Giants led 3-1 at the top of the sixth.

Castillo had 10 hits in four innings, making it the first Reds pitcher to perform the feat since Jim Maloney on May 21, 1963 in Milwaukee.

The Giants opened the fifth inning against Castillo with a single and a double. Two runners in goal position and no outs.

Castillo’s answer? He threw himself out. He turned down Evan Longoria. He received defensive help from Alex Blandino, who threw a runner on a ground ball at home to save a run and caught a lazy ball near the dugout railing.

“I think the work I did this week, be it on the bullpen or anything else while I’m in the field, was really worth it,” said Castillo, who put up a temporary Hawkeye tattoo on his forearm. “You could see with all of my repertoire that I was thrown out of there. It just came together. When you see that come together, it’s a relief to you.”

It was only one step forward in a start. The Reds need Castillo to play like an ace if they want to be a playoff team. But after weeks of fighting, the Reds were happy that Castillo had some successes.

“Even though we didn’t win, I would say we didn’t just take one step forward, we took three steps,” said Castillo. “Really, it felt better and the results were there.”