Luis Castillo has a game to remember in Cincinnati Reds win vs Dodgers

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo was right back where he started on April 1.

Nearly six months ago, on Opening Day, the Reds’ ace allowed a double in the first inning of his first game of the season. Then he allowed six runs in the first inning. That snowballed into the worst 10-game stretch of his career.

This time, facing the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night at Great American Ball Park, Castillo allowed a leadoff double against one of the best offenses in baseball. He responded by pitching like the ace that he has been for the Reds for most of his career.

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Castillo pitched 6 ⅓ shutout innings with 10 strikeouts. In a 3-1 win over the Dodgers on Friday, Castillo picked up a Reds team that had lost seven consecutive series and gave the Reds a win to open this series.

In 2020, when the Reds season was on the brink in September, the top of the rotation pitched like aces on a near-nightly basis to carry Cincinnati into the playoffs. Against the Dodgers on Friday, with the Reds trailing by one game in the NL Wild Card race, Castillo potentially got that momentum started.

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo (58) pitches in the first inning of the MLB baseball game between Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati.

The start nearly got off to a poor start when Dodgers All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts opened the game with a double to right field that was 101 mph off Betts’ bat. Castillo has had a strong second half, but the first inning had been a weakness all year.

Entering Friday’s game, Castillo had a 6.90 ERA in the first inning. Following Betts’ double, Castillo had to retire a few of the best hitters in the National League to keep the game scoreless.  

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