The Reds completed a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park and rookie Luis Castillo was stellar in his final start of the season Wednesday.
But that’s where the good news ended.
Billy Hamilton left in the middle of the third inning with a fractured left thumb suffered while trying to bunt in the first. The Reds placed him on the 10-day disabled list.
“He is going to be in a splint for 10 days, then we’ll reassess,” manager Bryan Price said. “I don’t think it will be season-ending. He can pinch run for us if he can’t swing a bat.”
Castillo, who is being shut down to make sure he doesn’t increase his innings from last season to this by more than is advisable, set a career high with 10 strikeouts in seven innings and the Reds erupted for five third-inning runs in what became a 7-1 win.
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“I was trying to compete,” said Castillo, obtained in January from Miami for right-handed pitcher Dan Straily. “I had a really good feel for my pitches. I feel really, really good about having a great year. I’m going to go back to the Dominican (Republic, after the season) and work hard for next season. I feel really happy.”
“He was extremely dominant,” Price. “He limited their ability to get the barrel of the bat on the ball.
“He has good stuff of course. We knew that. That’s why we got him in the trade. He’s a tough kid who has tremendous confidence. How many guys can come up from Double A and do what he’s done? He is only 3-7, but he kept us in every game and that’s important.”
Zack Cozart led off the seventh with his 18th homer of the season and Jose Peraza tacked on his fifth with one out in the eighth to help seal the win for Castillo (3-7), who finishes with a 3.12 earned-run average in 15 starts and 169 1/3 innings, 37 2/3 more than he logged last season.
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The Reds wanted to keep Castillo’s increase from last season to this year between 30 and 35, but Price kept open the possibility that he could expand that count if Castillo seemed capable of handling it.
No problem. Despite throwing 111 pitches, matching his second-highest total of the season, Castillo never seemed to be struggling. He faced more than four batters in one inning just once — the first.
“I don’t know exactly what we will do with Luis the rest of the year,” Price said. “We have to get together and see what he will do. I never say never but it is unlikely that he will pitch out of the bullpen. I don’t think you will see him on the mound the rest of the year.”
The sweep is Cincinnati’s first of Milwaukee since a three-game series in May 2013 and it dropped the Brewers four games behind the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central Division, depending on what the Cubs did in Wednesday night’s finale of their three-game series against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.
The Brewers and Cubs open a three-game series on Friday in Chicago.
“We lost three games,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. “They outplayed us. We didn’t have a good series. Today, we ran into a good pitching performance. We didn’t get anything going against their starting pitching.
“We didn’t play a good series. We had good energy every day before the games. We’ve struggled holding this team down offensively. We knew going in that they could score some runs.”
After Phillip Ervin struck out pinch-hitting for Hamilton to lead off the third, the Reds got consecutive singles from Cozart, Joey Votto, Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez to score one run and load the bases for Scott Schebler, who coaxed a bases-loaded walk out of Garza.
Peraza followed with a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Orlando Arcia, who got one out at second base, but Hernan Perez’s throw got away from first baseman Neil Walker for an error. Two runs scored on the play, and Counsell brought in left-hander Brent Suter, who immediately gave up Tucker Barnhart’s RBI single that capped the five-run outburst.