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Peraza gives Reds a spark with bat, glove

Speedster has 2 RBIs, makes great grab in left field
June 5, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- José Peraza is making a case for regular playing time, even with Scooter Gennett making his way back from injury. Peraza reached base three times, scored a run, drove in two, stole a base and made a key defensive play as Cincinnati won the opener of a

ST. LOUIS -- José Peraza is making a case for regular playing time, even with Scooter Gennett making his way back from injury.

Peraza reached base three times, scored a run, drove in two, stole a base and made a key defensive play as Cincinnati won the opener of a three-game series at Busch Stadium against the Cardinals, 4-1, snapping St. Louis’ four-game winning streak.

Box score

“I’ve been working really, really hard in the cage with the hitting coaches and do what I did last year as well, do my routine before the game and just take advantage of the opportunity,” Peraza said through a translator.

The performance comes after Peraza had his three-game hitting streak snapped after an unsuccessful pinch-hitting appearance against Washington on Sunday. Peraza is now 6-for-16 with a homer and three RBIs over his last four games, boosting his batting average from .196 to .213 during that span.

The spark Peraza is providing at the bottom of the Cincinnati lineup along with the versatility of playing multiple infield positions and the outfield will give manager David Bell options once Gennett returns from the 60-day injured list with a right groin injury.

“We know he can hit,” Bell said. “He’s shown that. It would be great to get him going and get him into a little bit of a groove at the plate. He hasn’t had regular playing time so it’s really good to see him make the most of the opportunity tonight. It would be nice to find a way to keep him in the lineup so he can keep it going.”

Peraza’s double in the fourth inning scored Jose Iglesias to tie the game at 1, and Peraza then scored the go-ahead run on a Nick Senzel double late in the inning. Then in the fifth, after Yasiel Puig snapped an 0-for-13 stretch with a home run to center field, the 25-year-old utility man singled home Curt Casali to extend the Reds’ lead to 4-1.

“I was more aggressive at the plate, and that’s why everything worked well for me,” Peraza said.

As big as the hits were, Peraza’s sliding catch on a sinking Matt Wieters drive in shallow left in the first inning was pivotal. Reds starter Luis Castillo had already given up a leadoff home run to Matt Carpenter and the Cardinals had two on with one out, before Peraza came up with the grab to bail Castillo out of trouble.

“When you have the types of players like Jose, he’s giving 100 percent into the game I feel like I can throw a strike and I can throw a certain pitch because I have my defense behind me,” Castillo said through an interpreter

Bell said the sliding catch helped both Castillo and Peraza

“Castillo when he’s pitching, it’s almost like he gets energy from the plays behind him and just steps it up a notch,” Bell said. “And for Peraza, who hasn’t played a ton of outfield, it was an important play for him to make, too. I think it gives him some confidence out there.”

After a shaky start, Castillo (6-1) settled in allowing just the Carpenter home run over six innings. He didn’t allow a hit after Paul DeJong followed Carpenter’s blast in the first with an infield single. Castillo struck out eight and walked four, but none after a free pass to lead off the third.

“He just kept getting better as the game went on,” Bell said. “He was strong all the way to the end. With the way it started, he just settled in against a very good lineup and a very good team. He’s back on track and he pitched as well as he has all year.”

Castillo retired the last 12 batters he faced. Amir Garrett, David Hernandez each pitched a scoreless inning of relief before Raisel Iglesias earned his 12th save.

“He’s always been a good pitcher,” Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said of Castillo. “He’s probably been a little more consistent this year, his command’s been good and he’s got really good stuff.”