The Reds led, 2-1, when Castillo was excused for the day. And six runs later, the game was gone.
Castillo was leading, 2-1, had given up one hit and at one point retired 15 straight Brewers into the sixth inning, even though he sat out a 37-minute rain delay after the fourth inning and came back to pitch brilliantly.
Castillo walked two in the sixth but struck out the dangerous Avisail Garcia in a 10-pitch battle for the second out.
Instead of permitting Castillo to go after Willy Adames for the third out, Bell took out Castillo and went to the bullpen. He replaced him with Lucas Sims, one of the few reliable Reds’ relievers.
Not this day.
Adames promptly bounced a ground rule double over the center field wall to tie it. Jace Peterson followed with a bloop two-run single to left field.
In a nano-second, a 2-1 lead was a 4-2 deficit.
Bell said the 37-minute rain delay and the 10-pitch battle with Garcia that ended in the strikeout were the determining factors toward removing Castillo.
“It started with the delay,” said Bell. “He came out of the delay throwing as well as ever. Because of the delay, I did have Lucas Sims up in the bullpen, just to see how it went. But during that 10-pitch at bat was when I made the decision. I felt that with the delay and he had to work extra hard to get that strikeout (of Garcia) after a couple of walks.”
Castillo preferred to stay in but was the good soldier and did not criticize his manager’s decision, other than to say the decision was Bell’s.
“Yes, I would have liked to continue on,” he said. “But those are not my decisions, those are the decisions of the manager. So it is out of my control and I have to respect any decision he does make.”
The bullpen bashing continued in the seventh when relief pitcher Sean Doolittle hit pinch-hitter Tyrone Taylor with a pitch and burly first baseman Daniel Vogelbach cleared the right field wall for a two-run home run and a 6-2 Brewers lead.
It continued in the eighth against recently recalled Art Warren, who gave up back-to-back doubles to Adames and Peterson for a seventh run.
There may be another issue on the horizon. Bell said the team’s only reliable member, TeJay Anteone, was not available Thursday, but said he would talk about it Friday.
And the bullpen issues? Bell was asked if there is anything he can do other than cross his fingers and hope for improvement.
“All the guys in our bullpen have had success,” said Bell. “We’ll continue to support them, and they are here for a reason. They are here because we believe in them. They’ll continue to get opportunities. And things change. I really believe things are going to get going in the right direction for our bullpen.”
Milwaukee took a 1-0 lead in the first, an inning that began with Castillo hitting leadoff batter Luis Urias. Castillo walked Christian Yelich and Garcia poked a run-scoring single past first baseman Joey Votto.
It was the only hit and only run the Brewers gathered off Castillo, although the two walks he issued in the sixth were charged to him on the hits given up by Sims.
Votto tied the game, 1-1, leading off the second with a home run. And the Reds took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on Kyle Farmer’s infield hit, Castillo’s sacrifice bunt with two strikes and Jesse Winker’s poke single to left.
But it became Bullpen Time for the Reds and Bash Time for the Brewers.
After the 37-minute rain delay after the fourth inning, Milwaukee starter Freddy Peralta was unable to come back. Castillo did come back and was breezing until he was removed.
While the Reds’ bullpen imploded, three Milwaukee relief pitchers held the Reds to one run and four hits over the final five innings.
The Reds lost two of three to the Brewers and never faced one of baseball’s best closers, Josh Hader.
Rockies at Reds, 7:10 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410