Cincinnati Reds center fielder Tyler Naquin has a clear view of starting pitcher Luis Castillo from the outfield, and on one pitch on Sunday he thought the Reds ace had thrown his signature changeup.
Instead, it was a 99 mph fastball.
Since the beginning of June, Castillo has a 2.77 ERA. In each of his last five appearances, he has made a quality start. On Sunday against the Detroit Tigers, Castillo allowed just one earned run over six innings.
He still picked up his 15th loss of the season as the Tigers beat the Reds, 4-1, in front of 23,083 fans at Great American Ball Park.
“It doesn’t make me feel good, I know that we need to put together a couple more runs,” Naquin said. “The guy has got incredible stuff and he’s going to pitch for a long time. He’s going to give us a chance to win every single time.”
The Tigers entered Sunday nine games under .500, but they became the second team under .500 in the last 10 days to win a series against the Reds. Cincinnati ended the series tied with the San Diego Padres for the second wild card spot, pending the Padres late result.
The Reds went 2-4 on a six-game homestand and have dropped four consecutive series.
“If we do anything but move on and look forward to what we have ahead of us,” Reds manager David Bell said, “That would be a mistake.”
While Castillo has continued to make quality starts, the Reds have only one win over the last month with Castillo on the mound. His only mistake on Sunday was on a two-run triple by Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario in the sixth inning.
Castillo located that changeup outside the strike zone, but Candelario dropped his barrel to hit a triple down the right field line.
“Those are things that just happened in the game, they happen to me a lot sometimes,” Castillo said via interpreter Jorge Merlos. “I’m there trying to get the best opportunity for this team to win right there in the long run. I wanted to grind out that sixth inning and give us the opportunity to win right there.”
During the Reds 4-8 stretch since August 24, the Reds have still averaged four runs per game. And even though the Reds gave up 15 runs in one game on Friday, they’ve only been outscored by four runs during that stretch.
The Reds haven’t taken advantage of a soft part of the schedule. On Friday, the Reds lost to a converted reliever with two wins this season. The Tigers took out starting pitcher Casey Mize after three innings on Sunday, and the Reds didn’t come back against a Tigers team that had the sixth-highest bullpen ERA in MLB.
Over the last week in Cincinnati, in series losses to the St. Louis Cardinals and the Tigers, the Reds missed an opportunity to enter the last four weeks of the season with more distance ahead of the Padres.
“We have so much to look forward to, so much to be excited about, so much to focus on moving forward,” Bell said. “You learn from everything, your success, any sort of challenges or failure and you move forward. That's pretty easy to do given where we are.”