Nick Castellanos had five hits Sunday, four RBI, two homers and one walk-off hit.
In a game where the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs combined for 30 hits and 25 runs, it was quite helpful to have the last chance to hit. It was even better to have Castellanos in the batter's box with the game on the line.
Castellanos ended the slugfest when he lined a walk-off single to center off Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel, lifting the Reds to a 13-12 win in 10 innings Sunday at Great American Ball Park.
"What he’s doing is pretty video game-like," Amir Garrett said. "He’s getting hit after hit after hit, home run. He’s playing out of his mind right now.
"I talk to him every single day, his mindset is on a whole different planet. He wants to be the best. He’s never satisfied. I can see the difference from him last year and him this year."
Sunday's walk-off hit was a little bit of redemption for Castellanos, who was upset with himself after he grounded out to end Saturday's game with the bases loaded. Here he was hitting against the same pitcher, Kimbrel, as the previous night with another opportunity to play the hero.
'They don’t know anything about our team':David Bell after Cubs' comments on Amir Garrett
In a 3-1 count, he punched a curveball to shallow center. He was mobbed by teammates at first base as they pounded his helmet and pulled at his jersey.
"He can be the best hitter in baseball," Garrett said. "We know that. He hits all sides of the park, he hits for power. He can do it."
"With the month he’s had, with the success that he’s had in his career, yeah, we felt great about having him up right there," Reds manager David Bell said.
It was just the second time Castellanos had a five-hit game in his career. He raised his batting average to .330 and is tied for the Major League lead in homers (nine).
What did his big day mean to him?
"Just appreciate it," Castellanos said. "They don’t come around that often as well as today. Just cherish it because baseball is a humbling game."
The Reds have won four of their last six games since ending their season-high seven-game losing streak. They will enter Monday’s off-day with a 13-14 record. They're 7-2 record against divisional opponents at GABP this season.
As much as hits defined the afternoon at GABP, the two teams tied a record for homers (10) in a game, the part that set up the win was a scoreless top of the 10th inning from Reds relievers Garrett and Ryan Hendrix.
Garrett struck out the two batters he faced, both lefties. Bell opted to call upon Hendrix to face pitcher Jake Arrieta, who came to the plate as a pinch-hitter with two outs because the Cubs had an empty bench. Bell said he decided before the inning that Garrett would face only the two lefty batters.
Hendrix struck out Arrieta in five pitches. Garrett, in his excitement, hopped the dugout railing to meet Hendrix in front of the dugout to celebrate.
"He has only been up here eight days, nine days," Garrett said. "To be put in a situation like that, that’s what makes people right there. That’s what’s going to make him as a reliever."
It was one of those games where no lead was safe. The Reds led 6-4 after three innings, 9-6 after six innings and 12-8 after seven innings, but each time the Cubs found a way to respond.
"Sometimes it’s important to have a little smile just because the game is just incredible," Bell said. "Two good teams going at it, back-and-forth competing like that. That’s what is great about the game."
The Reds provided a four-run lead for Tejay Antone, who was attempting a seven-out save. Tucker Barnhart thumped a two-run homer in the seventh and Castellanos followed a few batters later with a solo blast to right field.
Even Antone, who has been virtually untouchable all year, gave up four runs in 1 1/3 innings. Ian Happ hammered a game-tying, three-run homer off him with two outs in the eighth inning.
Ian Happ injury:Cubs outfielder carted off the field against the Reds
When the Reds carried a three-run lead into the seventh inning, Javier Báez hammered a two-run homer off Lucas Sims, a ball that left his bat at 108 mph and traveled 434 feet.
It didn't matter who was on the mound. The ball was flying. Tyler Mahle allowed nine hits and six runs in five innings, including a pair of homers to Kris Bryant.
"It was an exciting game from the first inning to the end," said Eugenio Suárez, who had his first multi-hit game since April 10.
All eight of the Reds' starting position players had a hit. Suárez probably needed them the most. He entered Sunday with one hit in his last 33 at-bats and 15 strikeouts.
Suárez was at the end of back-to-back homers with Mike Moustakas in the third inning, drilling a pitch from Cubs starter Trevor Williams over the center-field fence. He hit a single in the fifth inning. In the seventh, he delivered a two-out, two-run single to left field.
"I know hard work pays off," Suárez said. "Today was an example of that."
The game had just about everything. The two teams tied a GABP record with 10 combined homers, matching the total from a Reds-Pittsburgh game on April 14, 2014. The Reds took a lead in the middle of the game when Moustakas was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Cubs backup catcher Tony Wolters attempted to steal home – and he was out because replay showed his lead foot on his slide was above the plate.
But after the three-hour, 57-minute marathon, the Reds were on the field celebrating.
"You look ahead and I’d like to think it’s going to be a tough competition between all the teams in our division," Bell said. "This is really just the beginning."
The Reds will welcome the Chicago White Sox for a two-game series at GABP on Tuesday.