Cincinnati ace Luis Castillo struggled a bit in the follow-up to his terrific 2017 rookie campaign, but has shown new improvements thus far in 2019. Monday against the Astros, his premium stuff was on full display, but he struggled to find the plate for much of his six inning outing, issuing six free passes. Castillo’s wobbles afforded a hapless Astros offense a couple of scoring chances, but ultimately the Houston offense was unable to convert, recording just two hits against the Reds’ starter.
The game flew along until the fourth inning, when in the top of the frame Josh Reddick followed a one-out single from Yuli Gurriel with a walk, with both runners then advancing on a wild pitch with Robinson Chirinos at the plate. Chirinos walked as well, loading the bases for Tyler White, who himself had walked in his first plate appearance. Unfortunately, in what would end up being the Astros’ best scoring opportunity of the night, the Great White rolled over an offering from Castillo and was doubled off, ending the inning and failing to score the runner on third with one out.
Astros starter Wade Miley had been cruising in typical Miley fashion to start the game, as he allowed a total of three baserunners in the first four innings, and getting a key strikeout of the Reds’ star third baseman Eugenio Suarez with two outs and runners on first and second in the third. In the fifth inning, however, things came unglued for Miley, and he ended up failing to finish the frame. After a leadoff single by Curt Casali, Miley issued a walk to Kyle Farmer, and Castillo laid down a sacrifice which successfully advanced both runners. Phenom Nick Senzel then came up with a big two-run base knock, and Miley was unable to right the ship. After his starter walked Joey Votto and allowed an RBI single to the aforementioned Suarez, A.J. Hinch had seen enough, and called upon Hector Rondon to end the jam. Rondon did so with haste, getting pinch hitter Jesse Winker to ground into a 4-6-3 double play.
Those ended up being the only fireworks that the Reds offense was able to spark in the contest, and the Astros would finally get something going in the seventh. After walking Chirinos and White to start the inning, Castillo was pulled for David Hernandez, who struck out Tony Kemp before falling victim to a throwing gaffe by Jose Peraza which allowed Chirinos to score from second on a potential double play ball off the bat of Jake Marisnick. Hernandez then walked Alex Bregman, and was lifted for flamethrower Amir Garrett with Michael Brantley due to bat. Brantley connected on a double that easily scored Marisnick, but third base coach Gary Pettis held Bregman up at third base with the ball in the hands of cannon-armed right fielder Yasiel Puig. Some viewers opined that Bregman should’ve been waved around, particularly after Yordan Alvarez flew out to end the inning, but A.J. Hinch defended Pettis’ decision when asked about the play by Chandler Rome:
. @Chandler_Rome to Hinch after the game regarding Pettis' stop sign for Bregman on Brantley's 7th inn. 2B w/ 2 out - "We don't normally see Gary hold a guy there in that situation there..."— Adam Wexler (@KPRC2AdamW) June 18, 2019
Hinch-"You don't normally have RFs that have Puig's arm. I think, he's out if he goes."
Following a 1-2-3 seventh by middle relief ace Will Harris, the Astros started the eighth with a leadoff single by Yuli Gurriel, and then got themselves a two-out scoring opportunity after a fielder’s choice by Josh Reddick and a pop-up from Robinson Chirinos, with Tyler White recording his third walk of the game to push Reddick to second. A.J. Hinch opted to use Jack Mayfield as a pinch-runner rather than Myles Straw with the pitchers’ spot due to lead off in the ninth, but Tony Kemp grounded out to second, ending the opportunity and stranding two runners. Ryan Pressly then whiffed three reds, working around a single by Peraza, sending the game to the 9th 3-2.
Straw, pinch hitting for Pressly, worked a deep count and then a leadoff walk, but quick outs by Bregman and Brantley prevented Straw from getting a real chance to run, and Yordan Alvarez went down swinging to end the game. It was a frustrating loss for the Astros and their second in a row, as they were on the verge of recording a crucial run on multiple occasions. After matching #5 Wade Miley up against Cincy’s #1, the Astros will have a strong advantage on paper in tomorrow’s matchup with Justin Verlander facing off against Anthony “Disco” DeSclafani in another evening game.