By HAL McCOY
For the second straight night, the Miami Marlins saw up close and personal what might have been.
Where might they be had they not traded pitchers Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani to the Cincinnati Reds?
On Tuesday night, Castillo beat them and is 3-and-0 against the Marlins since the trade.
On Wednesday night, DeSclafani was nearly perfect as the Reds posted a 5-0 victory, the 85th loss this season for the Marlins as they continue their fast march toward 100 losses.
DeSclafani held the Marlins to no runs and two hits over seven innings, walking one and striking out eight. His trip toward a complete game was halted after seven innings because he threw 110 pitches, 71 for strikes.
The first hit the Marlins scraped against DeSclafani was a leadoff bloop single to center field in the fourth inning by Neil Walker. The second hit didn’t come until DeSclafani’s final inning, a two-out infield hit by Starlin Castro.
So, the Marlins work against DeSclafani was a bloop and a trickle for their two hits.
The Marlins never pushed a runner past first base. His only walk was to Isan Diaz with one out in the second. That inning ended when third baseman Eugenio Suarez snagged a line drive hit by Austin Dean, the hardest ball hit off him all night.
Then came Castro’s infield hit. Shortstop Jose Iglesias stopped the grounder while falling on his back. Still, he made the throw to first from his back and nearly retired Castro.
Bryan Holaday led the third with a long foul ball that narrowly missed home run territory.
And DeSclafani showed strength in the sixth by striking out the side. He made it five straight when he struck out Neil Walker and Garrett Cooper to open the seventh.
Then came Castro’s infield hit before DeSclafani’s night ended on a shallow fly ball to left field.
The Reds faced Miami’s Mr. Unlucky, pitcher Sandy Alcantara. In his previous five starts he posted a 2.30 earned run average and batters hit only .152 against him.
He lost all five due to lack of run support and DeSclafani made certain it stayed that way. He pitched seven innings for the first time this season. As a result, Alcantara’s record fell to 4-and-12.
The Reds took care of business in the first inning, as they often do, with three runs. And they came from the bat of astounding rookie Aristides Aquino.
Joey Votto walked on a full count with one out, Eugenio Suarez poked a single to right. Alcantara tried to sneak a 97 miles an hour fastball on the inside corner of he plate to Aquino. That’s like trying to sneak a raw steak past a pit bull. Aquino turned on it and blasted a three-run home run into the left field corner.
And the records keep on falling. It was Aquino’s 13th home run in 100 plate appearances, the all-time major league record for the most home runs by a rookie in his first 100 plate appearances.
Aquino bit Alcantara again in the fourth with a leadoff double down the left field line and he scored on Tucker Barnhart’s two-out double to make it 4-0.
Then it was Eugenio Suarez’s turn. He blasted his fourth home run in four games with two outs in the eighth inning, Suarez’s 38th home run.
It was his third in the first three games in Miami, where Suarez lives in the off-season and with several members of his family, some visiting from his native Venezuela, sitting in the mostly empty seats.
The announced attendance was 6,409, but they must have counted ushers, security people, concessionaires and the ball boys.
Kevin Gausman finished up for DeSclafani and gave up a couple of hits, but no runs. He struck out three to complete the shutout, the eighth time this year the Marlins have been shut out. The Reds have done it three times, twice in April when the Reds outscored the Marlins 21-1 in a three-game series.
The Reds, after blowing a three-game series to a bad Pittsburgh team, are taking advantage of the team with the worst record in the National League.
They’ve won six straight this year against the Marlins with another game Wednesday night to finish the four-game series.
After finishing with the Marlins, the Reds head for St. Louis and a four-game series in three days against the first place Cardinals.