By HAL McCOY
The baseball god wore a Cincinnati Reds cap Friday night in Oracle Park while the Reds, Luis Castillo and the bullpen recorded a 7-0 victory, the team’s second straight shutout.
Whatever bad could happen to the San Francisco Giants early in the game happened, everything but an earthquake in their dugout.
It began in the first inning when Reds starter Luis Castillo walked the first two Giants. Then he retired the next three.
Then came a surreal second inning during which the Reds scored four unearned runs.
(-)With one out, Derek Dietrich lifted a routine soft fly ball to left field. Tyler Austin dropped it for an error.
(-)Jose Iglesias singled, putting runners on second and first. Castillo popped up a bunt and first baseman Brandon Belt caught it and fired to first for an inning-ending double play. But wait. The Reds asked for a review and Jose Iglesias was ruled safe at first, continuing the inning.
(-)Tucker Barnhart, 0 for 12, 1 for 24 and hitting .172, singled to left field to make it 1-0.
(-)Nick Senzel blasted one to deep center field, where Stephen Duggar gloved it for the third out. But wait. Duggar crashed into the wall and the ball popped loose. Instead of the third out, it was a two-run triple for Senzel and a 3-0 lead.
(-)Joey Votto, 0 for 10 and 3 for 30, was walked. Eugenio Suarez doubled and it was 4-0 and the baseball god was giggling.
All of this happened to San Francisco pitcher Dereck Rodriguez, a son of Hall of Fame catcher Pudge Rodriguez. Hernandez was the guy who started a game in Cincinnati last week and gave up eight runs, eight hits and four home runs as the Reds took an 8-0 lead.
That was the game the Reds lost, after leading 8-0 and 10-3, by 12-11 in 11 innings. And Oracle Park is a horror chamber for Rodriguez. The Giants have lost the last nine games he started at home.
After giving up four unearned runs and four hits in the second, Rodriguez gave up only one more hit through the fifth inning, but Castillo and the Reds bullpen made the second inning stand up as the game decider.
Castillo and his change-up, which has more dance steps that Fred Astaire, took it from there with extra joy. The Giants originally signed Castillo out of the Dominican Republic when he was 19. After a few years in the Giants minor league system, they traded him to the Miami Marlins.
Castillo held the Giants to no runs and two hits while tying his career best with 11 strikeouts in six innings. Some command problems, five walks, cost him 103 pitches and an early exit. He walked the leadoff batter three times in his six innings, but pitched around it each time.
He walked Brandon Belt to open the sixth and saw Zach Duke and Michael Lorenzen begin warming up in the bullpen. To show they weren’t needed right away, Castillo then struck out the side and took the rest of the night off.
Duke retired the first two in the seventh before giving up two straight hits. Lorenzen entered the game at that juncture and squeezed off the rally by retiring Evan Longoria on a nice play by second baseman Jose Peraza.
The Reds did something they have not done much this season when the played add-on in the ninth inning with three runs.
They had only one hit from the fifth through the eighth, but with two outs and two strikes Yasiel Puig drilled a two-run single and pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer singled for another run and a 7-0 margin.
Castillo’s won-lost record zipped to 4-and-1 and his earned run average dipped to 1.76.