Sunny San Diego proves gloomy for Reds

June 21st, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- "June gloom" is a term often used in San Diego to describe the month because it's often filled with gray and overcast skies. However, the weather was picture perfect around Petco Park all weekend.

The only people who experienced June gloom during the four-game series vs. the Padres were the Reds. A three-run bottom of the third inning was enough to doom them to a 3-2 loss Sunday that completed the sweep.

It was a thin line between it being a good series for Cincinnati and getting swept. Three of the four games were decided by two runs or fewer. On Thursday and Saturday, San Diego won on decisive late home runs. Thursday was especially difficult because the Reds staged a comeback to take a two-run lead in the top of the ninth, only to lose in the bottom half. A vibrant, sold-out crowd at the ballpark also provided an edge.

"That one really hurt, the first game. I thought we had it in the bag. It just didn’t go our way," Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer said. "This weekend was tough, but we played our [butts] off. We played hard and did everything we could do. It wasn’t like we played that bad. We just got beat. I hate to say it, it’s just part of the game.”

Going into the series, the Reds had won six in a row and 13 of 16.

"They’re a good team, no question," Reds manager David Bell said. "We’re a good team, so we expect to win games here for sure. It takes our best, and looking back, the first game of the series, there was a shift there for sure at the end of that game. I still believe that’s going to be a positive for us in the long run. But yeah, it was a tough series."

Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo gave Cincinnati six innings with three runs (two earned) allowed on six hits, with three walks and seven strikeouts. In four starts this month, he is 1-2 with a 2.19 ERA, despite an overall 5.61 ERA in 15 starts this season.

Castillo had some bad luck. With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, he appeared to have Eric Hosmer out on strikes on a couple of pitches, but lost him to a walk. Wil Myers then hit a two-run triple to right field. As Myers tried for third base, Joey Votto's throw got by Eugenio Suárez for an error that allowed the Padres’ right fielder to score what proved to be the deciding run.

"I felt really good," Castillo said via translator Jorge Merlos. “We're always going out there to battle and give ourselves a chance to get a victory [that day]. You know what? I felt really, really comfortable out on the mound today."

The Reds rallied in the eighth when Jesse Winker led off with a single and Tyler Stephenson followed with a double. Winker scored on Joey Votto's groundout to second base, and after Aristides Aquino reached on a one-out walk, Suárez's groundout to third base scored Stephenson.

Shogo Akiyama followed with a long drive to right field that had a 104.6 mph exit velocity and a .910 expected batting average. Had the game been at Great American Ball Park, it might have given Akiyama his first big league home run. Instead, it was a rally-ending flyout.

"Wrong part of the ballpark," Bell said. "But that’s why this is a tough game. That’s why we love it. But he pulls it a little bit more, maybe we win that game. It doesn’t take anything away from the swing he took, but it could have been a different result."

Here are three things to look ahead to as the Reds head to Minnesota to finish the last two games of the road trip:

1. Nick Castellanos should be refreshed after a day off

Castellanos was given a rest from Sunday's starting lineup before he collected a single as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. But Castellanos is batting only .192 with five singles through seven games of the road trip.

"Physically, he feels good," Bell said. "It’s a grind and he’s grinding it out. He’s playing great. I’m just trying to stay ahead of everything that’s to come for him and our team."

2. Tejay Antone could return Tuesday

With Antone on the injured list due to right forearm inflammation, the bullpen picked him up with a 0.98 ERA during the Reds’ six-game win streak. But the group's struggles presented itself vs. the Padres with 11 earned runs allowed over 11 1/3 innings. Antone could be cleared to return for Tuesday's road trip finale. Lucas Sims, the club's second-best reliever, wasn't used at all in the Padres series and should be fresh to face the Twins.

3. The road trip can still be a winner

If the Reds can sweep two games from the Twins at Target Field, they can still finish the three-city, nine-game road trip with a 5-4 record. Farmer did not believe this weekend ruined the club’s momentum.

"The way we looked at it, we had blinders on this weekend and we just kept going forward and playing hard," Farmer said. "I had a lot of fun, we had a lot of fun as a team playing against those guys. It sucks getting swept, but we have swept people and we can do it again."