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Rain, shmain: Weather, Astros can't stop Castillo

Righty returns after delay to shut down Houston in opener
@m_sheldon
June 18, 2019

CINCINNATI -- It can be dicey for a starting pitcher when showers start during the early portion of a game. Would a weather stoppage ruin his performance? Should he return when play resumes? Following a 52-minute rain delay in the third inning Monday at Great American Ball Park while Reds

CINCINNATI -- It can be dicey for a starting pitcher when showers start during the early portion of a game. Would a weather stoppage ruin his performance? Should he return when play resumes?

Following a 52-minute rain delay in the third inning Monday at Great American Ball Park while Reds ace Luis Castillo was starting vs. the Astros, the answer to the first question was a no. The answer to the second question proved to be the correct one.

Despite issuing a career-high six walks, Castillo pitched into the seventh inning as Cincinnati held on for a 3-2 victory over American League West-leading Houston.

Box score

“It was borderline. He stayed ready,” Reds manager David Bell said of Castillo and the delay length. “He has such a good arm. His youth helps, I think. Too much longer and it would have been close, I think. Once we found out what the game [resume] time was, we were in the clear and he was able to stay ready. It didn't seem to affect him too much.”

Castillo pitched six-plus innings and was charged with two runs while allowing just two hits and striking out seven. It was the seventh time this season the right-hander pitched at least five innings and gave up two or fewer runs and two or fewer hits. When he left the game following a pair of walks in the seventh, Cincinnati had a 3-0 lead.

During the downpour, Castillo played catch in the batting cage adjacent to the clubhouse. Once the weather cleared, he used a towel to simulate throws and then returned to the bullpen to get ready again.

“It didn’t affect me at all. I did have to come into the clubhouse, wait 30 minutes and then go outside and warm up again,” Castillo said via translator Julio Morillo. “That’s not my routine. I think after that, I controlled the game really good and pitched a really good game.”

Castillo gave up Yordan Alvarez’s two-out single in the first inning and a one-out single by Yuli Gurriel in the fourth inning for his only two hits allowed. Two walks with a wild pitch loaded the bases in the fourth, but Castillo escaped when second baseman Kyle Farmer made a nice stop on Tyler White’s hot grounder up the middle and turned the inning-ending double play.

“It was a huge moment. I think that’s where we won the game,” Castillo said.

Castillo retired seven of eight batters heading into the seventh before Bell brought in reliever David Hernandez.

“When you get to that point in the game with no runs and two hits, after a long rain delay, I struggle to find anything negative to say,” Bell said of Castillo. “He continues to pitch extremely well for us.”

After a strikeout, Hernandez induced a would-be double play back to the mound from Jake Marisnick. However, shortstop José Peraza’s throwing error scored a run and extended the inning for the Astros. An RBI double by Michael Brantley off Amir Garrett put Houston down by one run.

It was Castillo’s first career Interleague win in five starts and it came against a premier club in the Astros. Houston is second in the AL in batting average and third in home runs. Castillo was up to the task and improved his record to 7-1 with a 2.26 ERA as he continues to build his All-Star resume.

“I think you’re facing world-class hitters, a world-class team," Castillo said. "In this situation, you’ve got to be focused 100 percent on making your pitches.”

Bell pulls Iglesias in ninth inning

With one out in the eighth inning and a runner on first base, Bell summoned closer Raisel Iglesias for the final five outs. But pitching for the first time since June 11, Iglesias was not sharp. He walked a batter and threw a wild pitch in the eighth, then he walked the leadoff batter in the ninth. After Iglesias got Alex Bregman to pop out, Bell emerged from the dugout and summoned Michael Lorenzen from the bullpen for the final two outs. Lorenzen got Brantley with a first-pitch flyout and struck out Alvarez, but not before a line drive to left field that was foul by only a couple of feet.

“We’re just trying to do whatever we can to give us our best chance to win. Raisel’s done it before, he’s going to do it again. He’s a great pitcher. He’s going to be ready next time,” Bell said. “What I asked him to do was going to be difficult for anybody to do, to be able to finish the game from that point against that team. Tonight, it was just somebody else’s turn.”

Iglesias did not return to the field for postgame victory handshakes. But speaking through Morillo’s translation, he did not appear upset about being lifted.

“I feel really happy because we won the game. That’s the most important thing here is just to win the game,” Iglesias said. “I wasn’t surprised at all. My command wasn’t good enough because I spent many days without pitching. I think Bregman was a good at-bat, a popup to first base. After that, it didn’t surprise me at all. This is about winning games.”

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.