Castillo continues mastery over his former team

By HAL McCoy

The Miami Marlins, perhaps not trying to be all that they can be, have traded in recent times a roster of all-stars — Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, Marcell Osuna and J.T. Realmuto.

And maybe there is one deal they wish they hadn’t made, the trade that sent a young lower-minors pitcher to the Cincinnati Reds named Luis Castillo.

The other players Miami traded were already established stars when the Marlins made them a part of their salary-dump/rebuild program.

Castillo, though, was pitching at high-A Jupiter when the Marlins sent the then 24-year-old pitcher to the Reds, with two other minor leaguers, for pitcher Dan Straily.

Castillo quickly evolved into a top-of-the-rotation All-Star pitcher who never lets the Marlins forget what they let go.

On Tuesday night in Marlins Park, Castillo was not at the apex of his game, but he was good enough to beat the Marlins for the third time since the trade, with no losses.

The Reds outscored the Marlins, the worst team in the National League by personal design, 8-5, Cincinnati’s second straight victory in Miami.

With heavy support from his catcher, Curt Casali, Castillo won his 13th game. Casali, not long off the injured list, backed Castillo with a solo home run and a two-run single.

Castillo pitched six innings and gave up five runs and seven hits, walking two and striking out 11. He started slow, was dominant in the middle and then wobbled at the end of his night when his pitch-count reached 109.

The Reds jumped of Miami starter Caleb Smith in the first inning and it was a familiar first-inning culprit doing the damage.

After Smith hit Nick Senzel with a pitch, Eugenio Suarez hit a home run, his third in the three games, and his 37th this season. And it was his 13th home run this season in the first inning, giving Castillo a 2-0 lead before he toed the rubber.

Castillo, though, gave up a leadoff double to Jon Berti and issued a two-out walk. Rookie Isan Diaz lined one to the right center gap, scoring two runs to tie it.

But Diaz loafed running from second to third, trying for a triple. And he didn’t slide at third base and was tagged out, ending the inning.

It looked as if Castillo wouldn’t last long when he gave up three straight singles and a run to start the second. But he retired the next three, two on strikeouts to keep the Miami lead at 3-2.

Casali led the third with an upper deck home run to left field to tie it, 3-3, while Castillo bowed his back and struck out five straight. And through the fifth he struck out seven of eight.

The Reds grabbed a 5-3 lead in the fifth with two runs on a double by Suarez, an infield hit by Jose Iglesias, a wild pitch and Casali’s two-out, two-strike, two-run single.

Pitcher Castillo singled, his second hit of the night, to begin the sixth and Nick Senzel, back in the leadoff spot, crashed one over the left field fence, extending Cincinnati’s lead to 7-3.

Castillo finally ran out of petrol in the Miami sixth when he walked Neil Walker and watched one of his pitches fly over the fence, a two-run home run by Jorge Alfaro.

Castillo departed with a 7-5 lead and the Reds added a run in the their seventh on Nick Senzel’s two-out single for an 8-5 lead.

Robert Stephenson pitched a no-run, one-hit seventh and Amir Garrett encountered difficulties. He walked two, including Lewis Brinson, hitting .170, with two outs.

That put two on with two outs and brought up the potential tying run. Garrett was removed and when he barked at home plate umpire Ryan Blakney all the way from the mound to the dugout he was eventually ejected.

Close Raisel Iglesias came on to face pinch-hitter Martin Prado and retired him on a deep fly to center field, silencing the uprising.

Iglesias retired the first two in the ninth then threatened another meltdown. He gave up two straight singles. That brought up Neil Walker, the potential tying run. He grounded out on the first pitch to end it.

Iglesias recorded his 27th save and the Marlins struck out 14 times, many of them on pitches in the dirt and outside the strike zone.

The Reds had some reverberating bats on this night. In addition to Casali’s two hits and three RBI, Suarez had three hits and two RBI, Nick Senzel had two hits and drove in three runs and Jose Iglesias had two hits and scored two.

Joey Votto returned from the injured list and had a 0 for 5 hung around his neck, while Aristides Aquino (0 for 4) went hitless. To make room on the roster for Votto, Jose Peraza was optioned to Class AAA Louisville.

Another former Marlins pitcher, Anthony DeSclafani tries to make it three straight for the Reds Wednesday night.

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