Castro is learning to roll with the punches
TORONTO -- When Blue Jays manager John Gibbons consoled Miguel Castro after Toronto completed its three-game sweep of Baltimore on Thursday, the rookie closer just nodded and smiled. There wasn't much else to say after nearly squandering a four-run lead.
Castro entered the game with one out in the ninth and promptly served up a three-run homer to Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, cutting Toronto's lead to one run, but as Gibbons said, he will have nights like this. After all, he's in the Majors now.
"They're big league hitters over there; there's some All-Stars. They're going to take advantage and they're going to get you sometimes. That's just part of it," Gibbons said after Toronto wrapped up its 10-game homestand with a 7-6 win over the defending American League East champs. "But the key is to get that final out with the lead, which he's done."
Castro, who was only charged one earned run after inheriting a pair of baserunners from Liam Hendriks, retired the final two batters to secure his fourth save of the season. It marked the second time in three appearances the hard-throwing right-hander gave up a ninth-inning homer.
"He still closed it out," Gibbons said. "I told him, 'You're going to give up hits. You're going to give up home runs. That's what happens in the big leagues.'"
Despite his recent struggles, the 20-year-old is now 4-for-5 in save opportunities and owns a sparkling 1.93 ERA and 1.18 WHIP on the season. Castro, who assumed the closer's role after Brett Cecil was stripped of his ninth-inning duties less than a week into the season, has already made quite the impression just 16 games into his Major League career.
"For a 20-year-old kid, that's pretty remarkable," Gibbons said. "He's held up well to this point. The job was kind of up for grabs there, and he's taken it and run with it. I'm proud of the kid. It's not easy doing what he's doing."
Perhaps most impressive, said catcher Russell Martin, was how Castro responded to Machado's home run. He induced a fly ball for the second out in the ninth, and then fell behind, 2-1, to Ryan Lavarnway before battling back and striking him out with a 96-mph fastball to end the game.
"It was great," Martin said. "It looked like he got a little ticked off right there and got his fastball back down in the zone and was able to get that last out."