By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — For Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo, Friday night in Great American Ball Park was the gran sueno — The Big Sleep.
The St. Louis Cardinals put Castillo into an uncharacteristic early snooze en route to crushing him and the Cincinnati Reds, 13-4. The loss pushed the Reds back to 7 1/2 games behind in the National League Central.
The Cardinals teed of on Castillo as if they knew what was coming, ripping into him for eight runs and nine hits that included three home runs in only 4 1/3 innings.Just as Trevor Bauer gave up the most runs in his career three days ago in Washington, Castillo was tagged for the most for his career.
“Some of my pitches just caught too much of the plate,” said Castillo after his record dipped to 11-5. “My change-up and slider were working really good tonight. But when things aren’t going to go good for you, they just aren’t going to go good. It was one of those nights. They put good swings on my pitches.”
Making it more frustrating was that the real pitching was done by St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright, a guy who usually bows down to the Reds. Wainwright owns a winning career record against every team in the division except the Reds. He was 9-and-12 with a 5.31 earned run average against the Reds and hadn’t won a game in GABP since May of 2014.
He won this one easily. He held the Reds scoreless on two hits over five innings while his teammates constructed a 12-0 lead. He made it through 6 2/3 innings, giving up four runs and eight hits.
And as the night began, the Cardinals had lost six straight road games while scoring only eight runs total, never more than three.
They took care of that matter quickly Friday night.
Castillo and the Reds were down 6-0 almost before the organist warmed up his fingers.
The Cardinals scored one in the first, three in the second, all four scoring with two outs, and two more in the third.
The run in the first came on a single by Tommy Edman and a two-out double by Marcell Ozuna.
Castillo committed three pitching sins in the second. First, he gave up a two-out single to No. 8 hitter Kolten Wong. Second, he gave up a two-out single to pitcher and No. 9 hitter Adam Wainwright.
Third, he fell behind leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler 3-and-0 and threw a baseball on a tight string center-cut over the plate. Fowler tore into it like a hungry tiger and cranked it into the right field bleachers. It was a three-run homer and a 4-0 St. Louis lead.
Marcell Ozuna singled with one out in the third and Paul DeJong crash-landed one in the grass behind the center field wall, his 21st home run and a 6-0 Cardinals advantage.
The beatdown continued in the fifth when Tommy Edman singled to open the inning. Castillo was 0-and-2 ahead of Paul Goldschmidt but missed with three strange change-ups. On 3-and-2, Castillo centered another fastball, a 96er, and Goldschmidt knocked it lopsided, his 27th homer and an 8-0 St. Louis lead.
And Castillo’s short night was over, shortly after sunset.
The onslaught continued in the sixth against Matt Bowman, four more runs. And it cost the Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who left mid-inning with a left thumb sprain after a play at third base.
“He jammed his thumb and it is not fractured,” said manager David Bell. “We’re hoping it is just a day or two. We’ll have to see.”
It was 12-0 in the sixth inning and if there was a white surrender flag in baseball the Reds would have been waving it frantically and screeching, “No mas, no mas.”
The night’s only positive was, yes, another home run by Aristides Aquino, a two-run rip in the sixth inning. It put him in the record books again
With 10 home runs in 16 major league games, he is the fastest to reach 10 home runs to start a career, wiping Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins off the books (10 in 17 games).
It is too the point where Reds Bell can’t find the words to talk about Aquino.
“I hesitate to even go there,” said Bell. “I don’t want to limit what he is able to do. He really works hard and has a really good understanding of what he is doing.
“He knows himself really well for a young player,” Bell added. “He is young player and his ups and downs have taught him a lot. He is experienced in a lot of ways. His personality is very calm and easy going and he is very competitive.”
And right now is almost always on the up with no down so far in sight.
Joel Kuhnel made his major league debut in the seventh and encountered a high and a low quickly. He struck out the first batter he faced, Yadier Molina, but the next batter, Kolten Wong, reversed his first pitch over the right field wall for the fourth home run of the night for the Cardinals.
It is an ugly night when a position player finishes the game on the mound. It was an ugly night and infielder Jose Peraza pitched the ninth inning for the Reds. He gave up an infield hit but ended a scoreless inning on a double play.
About Castillo, though, Bell said, “We know they have good hitters and it looked as if a lot of his pitches were right down the middle. Everybody is going to have a night like that. And it looked to me as if he was missing over the plate a little bit.”
And the Cardinals didn’t miss them.