By HAL McCoy
CINCINNATI — It was Photo Day for Cincinnati Reds season ticket holders Sunday morning and all the Reds cooperatively posed for the fans behind ropes in the outfield.
The most photogenic guy on this day, at least on the pitching mound, was Reds starter Luis Castillo. He was picture-perfect.
Using a 97 miles an hour fastball and an 84 miles an hour change-up that looked identical to the phlamboyant but phrustrated Phillies, Castillo pitched seven shutout innings and completed baffled the Philadelphians, 4-0.
“That was nice. That was really, really nice,” said Reds manager Jim Riggleman in total understatement mode. “He was really, really good — and then some. That’s really a good lineup he was facing.”
Curt Casali, the man who worked behind the plate and directed Castillo to the no runs, four hits, one walk and nine strikeouts afternoon, couldn’t say enough about what he witnessed.
“His arm motion is so fast and he doesn’t slow down his arm motion one bit when he throws his changeup,” said Casali. “And there is no spin on it. So you have a changeup with no spin and a fastball with no spin. For a hitter, that’s almost impossible.
“I caught him earlier this season when he was lights out, but today he showed how efficient he can be,” said Casali. “He was attacking guys and letting them put it in play. With the no-spin changeup and the no-spin fastball, he also kept them off balance with some sliders away to right handers. That’s a good recipe for success.”
Castillo smiled broadly when he was asked to provide one spanish word for his changeup. He hesitated for a long time, then said, “effectivo.” Yes, extremely effective.
“When you throw 97 and they have problems, then you throw a pitch about 84 and you see big league hitters reaching out for it and missing it, you feel proud of yourself to make big league hitters look like that,” said Castillo.
After some mid-season struggles, Castillo has pasted together back-to-back gems. He held the St. Louis Cardinals to one run and four hits over 5 1/3 innings in his previous start.
And Riggleman knows why, but not how because he claims to know little about pitching mechanics and leaves that facet to pitching coach Danny Darwin.
“Our coaches have talked to him about some arm angle stuff,” said Riggleman. “Danny Darwin said he was better at that today, using the right arm angles for the right pitches. The specifics of it I’m not sure. . .and I don’t care. But you see the results.”
Castillo put runners on base in each of his first four innings, then retired the final 12 he faced. And he was pumping the fastball as hard in the seventh as he was in the first.
“When you get to the seventh and you know you are getting close to be taken out of the game, that’s when you throw everything you can, as hard as you can, give 100 per cent of what you have,” he said.
Scooter Gennett did his poser duties for the fans before the game and was the first off the field, saying as he hit the top of the dugout steps, “I have a game to get ready for.”
And did he ever get ready.
Gennett put a picture-perfect swing on a pitch and reached the right field bleachers, behind where the photo-snapping fans stood, for his 17th home run in the third inning, a two-run rip that helped the Reds cripple the Phillies.
After losing the first game of the four-game series, the Reds won the last three against the team leading the National League East.
The Phillies hit seven home runs on Thursday during a 9-4 win. Over the last three games they hit only two as it seemed they constantly swung for the walls and came up short. And after scoring nine runs in the first game, the Phillies scored six total in the final three games.
“You know what? That is huge,” said Riggleman. “You can’t defend the home run. You keep the ball in the park and you have a chance.”
Castillo kept the Phillies in the park and shut down despite putting runners on base in each of his first four innings. After Nick Williams singled to lead off the fourth, Castillo retired 12 straight and turned it over to the bullpen.
David Hernandez gave up a one-out double in the eighth but struck out three and left the runners stranded.
Wandy Peralta put matters into a save situation in the ninth when he put two on via singles with one out, forcing Riggleman to bring in closer Raisel Iglesias.
Iglesias fell behind Maikel Franco 3-and-0, scrambled back to 3-and-2, then gave up a ground single to right field to load the bases with one out.
That brought up Scott Kingery, the potential tying run and Iglesias once again went to 3-and-2. This time he struck the batter out for the second out. He finished his task and preserved the shutout by striking out Andrew Knapp for his 21st save.