By Hal McCoy
It isn’t often a team scores eight runs in one inning. . .and loses by five.
That was the scenario Thursday night for the Cincinnati Reds. Welcome to Coors Field, the world’s largest pinball machine.
The Reds scored eight runs in the eighth inning, but lost, 13-8, to the Colorado Rockies.
How did that happen? Luis Castillo. And Cionel Perez.
Just when it appeared that he had reached rock bottom, Castillo tumbled down a mine shaft.
The much-troubled Cincinnati Reds pitcher, facing the National League’s team with the worst record, gave up eight runs and a career worst 10 hits in only 3 2/3 innings. He retired 11 batters and gave up 10 hits.
He was facing the Colorado Rockies and they aren’t the Blake Street Bombers of the late 1990s, a team loaded with offensive weapons like Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, Vinny Castilla and Dante Bichette.
And on this night, Colorado’s best hitter, Trevor Story, sat this one out.
Nevertheless, when the Colorado hitfest concluded it was Rockies 13, Reds 8.
Amazingly the Reds had, zero runs until they scored eight in the eighth when it was 10-0.
They had eight hits, including a two-ru pinch-hit home run by Tyler Stephens and a three-run home run by Jonathan India, his second hit of the inning.
India was 0 for 17 when he opened the eighth with a single and finished the inning with his three-run homer.
“We made an incredible comeback, but came up short,”said manager David Bell. “That’s the bottom line, but it was a good inning. We made a great run with a lot of good at bats and made a game of it. It could have been an incredible comeback if we had won it. It was a great effort.”
Colorado’s pitching staff, both the starters and the relief pitchers, own the worst earned run averages in the National League.
But Colorado starter Chi Chi Rodriguez, he of the 5.37 earned run average, strapped a tight muzzle on the Cincinnati offense.
In a playpen that is considered a hitter’s paradise, the Reds scraped together no runs and four hits over seven innings against Gonzalez.
The Reds threatened Gonzalez in the first inning, putting two on with one out. But Mike Moustakas hit into a double play. After that, the Reds reached second base only once, a two-out double by Nick Castellanos in the sixth.
The Reds, though, ripped into the Rockies bullpen in the eighth — Lucas Gilbreath, former Cincinnati pitcher Robert Stephenson and Mychal Givens.
Alas, the Rockies retrieved three of those runs in the bottom of the eighth against Cionel Perez, including a home run by Garrett Hampson.
As per usual, Castillo couldn’t escape the first inning unscathed. When the game began, Castillo had given up 30 runs this season, 15 in the first inning.
Make it 33 runs, 18 in the first inning.
Raimel Tapia opened with a single and scored on Connor Joe’s double, his first RBI this season. With two outs, Josh Fuente launched a two-run home run and it was 3-0.
Castillo escaped the second and third innings, but the fourth inning was a first-degree disaster. The Rockies scored five runs, all with two outs.
With two outs and two on, Castillo walked Tapia on four pitches to fill the bases. The Rockies then rocked Castillo for four straight hits. Included was another run-scoring hit by Joe and a two-run single by Fuentes that ended Castillo’s night.
He left with his ever-rising earned run average swelled to 7.71 and his record plummeted to 1-and-5.
Despite another ugly line, both catcher Tucker Barnhart and Bell insist Castillo is just a hair away from being his old self. Both cited his 97 miles per hour velocity, some well-located pitches sandwiched around some that missed wildly and a bunch softly hit balls that fell for hits.
After Castillo issued a walk to open third, when it was only 3-0, Barnhart went to the mound.
“I talked to him and got him to smile,” said Barnhart. “In times like that, it is hard to just keep going, really. I asked him, ‘Man, are you having fun? We all play this game to have fun. Because it is fun.’ And he smiled and then we talked about mechanics.
Barnhart said Castillo’s sliders were good, executed right to the game plan, but weakly hit balls keep finding the outfield grass.
“It is definitely maddening and it’s frustrating,” said Barnhart. “This game is a sonofabitch, man. There are times when it doesn’t seem like anything will go right. And that big inning (fourth) there were like six hits and the ones that did the damage were not hit very hard.
“In situations where you are struggling and things aren’t going your way, it continues snowball,” Barnhart added. “We just have to keep punching. Luis made a lot of good pitches tonight and he’s really close. I know we all keep saying that, but he’s really close.”
Bell spoke on the same level.
“It’s a matter of putting a few adjustments together,” he said. “He is too talented. He is working hard. He is frustrated, of course, and that’s OK. Just a matter of time. He’s too good.”
After the Reds bullpen pitched 5 2/3 perfect innings Wednesday in Pittsburgh, the bullpen on Thursday gave up five runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings.
To make matters worse for the Reds, they lost two players to injuries during the game. Nick Senzel crashed into the wall in the first inning chasing Joe’s double and left with a heel injury.
First baseman Mike Moustakas injured his shoulder chasing a fly ball into the protective netting. Bell said both injuries are minor and doesn’t expect either to miss much time.