'Hope he stays a Red forever': Castillo aces audition vs. Yanks

Right-hander dominates potential suitor ahead of Aug. 2 Trade Deadline

July 15th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Luis Castillo had quite an audition in front of the Yankees and their fans on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium. Even though he ended up with a no-decision, the Reds won the game, 7-6, in 10 innings. Cincinnati ended up taking two of three games from New York, and the club has won five of its past six against playoff contenders after sweeping the Rays last weekend.

The series finale was tied at 4 in the top of the 10th when Joey Votto swung at the first pitch from left-hander Lucas Luetge and doubled to right-center field, scoring Brandon Drury. Tyler Stephenson followed and doubled down the left-field line to score pinch-runner Matt Reynolds to make it a two-run game. Donovan Solano drove in Cincinnati’s last run of the game with an RBI single to left field.

The Yankees made it a one-run game with two in the bottom of the 10th before Dauri Moreta was able to get to get DJ LeMahieu to line out to center fielder Nick Senzel to end the game.

“When you are playing the New York Yankees, or any other good team, this is what it’s supposed to feel like,” Reds manager David Bell said. “It’s a playoff game. Every pitch matters. You make a mistake, you come right back and you make a play. ... It’s a beautiful game to be a part of. I hope people really enjoyed watching it. It’s fun -- win or lose. Obviously, it’s more fun [when you win]. It’s a great reminder of what a great game it is.”

Castillo reminded the Reds of how great of a pitcher he is, and that’s why opposing teams -- like the Yankees -- are interested in his services before the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline.

Castillo allowed one run in seven innings and struck out eight batters while the Yankees showed they couldn’t touch his fastball and changeup. Besides throwing 17 first-pitch strikes, six of his strikeouts came on the four-seam fastball. Everything else was working for Castillo, including his sinker and slider.

“He clearly rose to the occasion. … The focus was there right to the end,” Bell said. “There’s nobody I would rather have out there at any point, and he knows that.”

It looked like it was going to be Castillo's best game of the season, as he had a no-hitter until Anthony Rizzo doubled down the right-field line in the sixth inning to put runners on second and third with one out. With the infield in, Giancarlo Stanton hit a chopper to second baseman Jonathan India, who bobbled the ball to allow Aaron Judge to score and tie the game at 1, though India managed to get Stanton at first base.

Castillo finished the frame and pitched another scoreless inning before leaving the game.

How good has Castillo been lately? In his 11 starts since May 20, he has a 2.37 ERA while racking up 75 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings and holding opponents to a .198 (50-for-252) batting average.

“He’s nasty,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Two-seam, four-seam, 95-99 [mph] that he paints to both sides of the plate. He’s giving you two different looks with the fastball, and he’s working both sides of the plate with it, then he’s got a great changeup. He was tough.”

Said Judge: “When you’ve got 100 [mph] and you’re painting the corners, it’s going to make for a tough day.”

After the game, Castillo said he heard all the rumors about being traded to the Yankees, but his main focus is what he does on the mound.

“I want to throw to the best of my abilities," Castillo said through interpreter Jorge Merlos. "That’s all I’m thinking."

No matter what happens, Castillo will never forget that the Reds gave him his first chance to pitch in the big leagues in 2017.

“[The Reds] gave me an opportunity to start my career,” Castillo said. “Throughout the whole time with this organization, everybody has treated me well and I hope we can continue on and do the same for a long time.”

After Castillo struck out LeMahieu to end the seventh inning, Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer told Castillo, “I love you and you are the man.”

“I hope he stays a Red forever, but who knows what the future holds," Farmer said. "But watching him pitch -- man, that sinker is awesome."