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Castillo, Suarez fire on all cylinders vs. Mets

Reds starter opens with 4 2/3 perfect frames; third baseman knocks in 4 runs
MLB.com @benweinrib

CINCINNATI -- After an outstanding rookie season, 2018 has been an up-and-down ride for Reds right-hander Luis Castillo. Walks have been an issue, along with home runs, but he was striking out hitters.

On Tuesday, Castillo put it all together for perhaps his best start of the season, and teammate Eugenio Suarez provided the power in the Reds' 7-2 win over the Mets at Great American Ball Park.

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CINCINNATI -- After an outstanding rookie season, 2018 has been an up-and-down ride for Reds right-hander Luis Castillo. Walks have been an issue, along with home runs, but he was striking out hitters.

On Tuesday, Castillo put it all together for perhaps his best start of the season, and teammate Eugenio Suarez provided the power in the Reds' 7-2 win over the Mets at Great American Ball Park.

View Full Game Coverage

Video: NYM@CIN: Suarez singles in two to open the scoring

Castillo had been working with the club's pitching coaches to refine his mechanics and iron out his command, and the results showed. He sat down the first 14 batters he faced and attacked the strike zone, limiting hard contact with no batted balls at 100 mph or harder. Castillo was able to get ahead in the count with first-pitch strikes to 14 of 21 batters and put them away with a devastating changeup low and out of the zone to pick up six of his seven strikeouts.

"He was aggressive, but he also was aggressive with his changeup," Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "He really had a good one going and had some strikeouts on it. He kept his pitch count down. It was a really good performance."

In many ways, he looked much more like the rookie with a 3.12 ERA than the second-year pitcher who came into Tuesday's game with a 7.01 mark.

Although Castillo did allow a home run for the fourth consecutive start, Wilmer Flores' sixth-inning shot came with the bases empty. And Castillo did not issue a walk until the final batter he faced, three hitters later. He was saddled with a second run when reliever Amir Garrett walked the first two batters he faced, but Castillo ended the night with a season-low three hits allowed.

"I want to be the [pitcher] that I was last year," Castillo said through a translator. "I think I still am. What I showed out there tonight was great. I just need to find the consistency and keep doing this for the rest of the season."

Castillo was especially able to attack because his offense spotted him two early runs. The first four Reds reached base to begin the game, and Suarez knocked two home on a single to right field. Suarez added an RBI double in the third and capped off the night with another RBI knock during a three-run seventh. Suarez's team-high four RBIs brought him to 15 this homestand.

Video: NYM@CIN: Suarez plates Bruce with a double

"Eugenio is a complete player," Riggleman said. "He plays both sides, defense, offense, he runs the bases well. He has a great arm, accurate thrower. He's an energetic personality in the clubhouse. He is what he is, and that's why the Reds have locked him up for several years."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
No days off: Tucker Barnhart was originally scheduled for a day off, but after the Reds traded fellow catcher Devin Mesoraco across the stadium to the Mets shortly before the game, Barnhart was put into the lineup. He proved to be more than up for the task, as he tripled in the second inning -- just the fourth of his career -- and added an RBI single in the third.

Video: NYM@CIN: Barnhart lines an RBI single up the gut

"I have a routine that I go about every single day that never changes," Barnhart said. "I'm prepared to play, and I didn't feel like I was checked out mentally or anything. It didn't take me long to get ready; I'm always ready to play."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Reds got into a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth inning with the heart of the order up. Facing Adrian Gonzalez, Wandy Peralta coaxed a ground ball to the right of second base that shortstop Jose Peraza got to, thanks in part to a slight shift. He was able to flip the ball to Scooter Gennett, turning the inning-ending double play.

Video: NYM@CIN: Peraza starts double play to end the threat

GOING OUT WITH A BANG
The Mets nearly started a mini-rally in the ninth when Juan Lagares singled to lead off the inning and advanced on defensive indifference, but Scott Schebler would have none of it. With two outs, Flores hit a hard liner to right field, and Schebler covered 59 feet in 3.9 seconds for the sliding catch to end the game. At a 56-percent catch probability, it was the second three-star grab in as many opportunities for Schebler this season.

Video: NYM@CIN: Schebler seals the win with a sliding catch

HE SAID IT
"It was weird. I told him he looked ugly in blue." -- Barnhart, on Mesoraco pinch-hitting against his former team in the ninth inning. He struck out against Austin Brice.

Video: NYM@CIN: Mesoraco gets standing ovation from fans

UP NEXT
Sal Romano is coming off perhaps his best start of the year, when he held the Marlins to one run on three hits over 5 1/3 innings. However, he's only completed six innings twice in seven starts this season due to high pitch counts. Romano will get the ball in Wednesday's 12:35 p.m. ET start, where he'll face the Mets and Zack Wheeler at Great American Ball Park.

Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland. Follow him on Twitter at @benweinrib.

Cincinnati Reds, Luis Castillo, Eugenio Suarez