How about that.
For one beautiful late-summer Cincinnati evening, a $282 million payroll didn’t matter. The wobbly Reds beat the mighty Dodgers.
Renaissance artists sculpted statues to honor such events, works of art that have been revered for centuries. Michelangelo’s David
is the more famous. But Donatello’s tribute
to Goliath’s slayer more resembles Luis Castillo.
The exciting 3-1 win in front of nearly 29,000 fans moved the Reds back to six above .500 and gave David Bell’s team of misfit toys a modest two-game winning streak. Truth be told, we’d have all gladly taken a single win in this series and now it’s in pocket with Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle to go.
threw 111 pitches in chiseling his masterpiece. Castillo has matched or exceeded that number before, but not in 2021. And his team, still struggling to find its hitting shoes, needed every filthy changeup and darting slider, not to mention Castillo’s fastballs that topped out at 99.9 mph and averaged
The 28-year-old Castillo outdueled his Dodger counterpart Walker Buehler who will deservedly receive many, if not the most, NL Cy Young Award votes this fall. Castillo’s whiff rate was 36% compared to Buehler’s 23%. Castillo recorded a CSW (called strikes plus whiffs) rate of 34% versus 31%. The Reds right-hander doubled Buehler’s strikeout count (10 to 5).
After the game, Buehler, a Lexington, Kentucky native, said this: “It’s just what (Castillo) does. He’s obviously got a good fastball and a really, really good changeup. I think it’s pretty well-known that he’s one of most talented guys in the league.”
Castillo lasted 6.1 innings which meant the Reds bullpen, spotted a 3-0 lead, had to cover the final 2.2. Bell brought in Luis Cessa
, who the Reds acquired in a deadline deal with the New York Yankees, to pitch in the 7th with a runner at first and one out. Six pitches and two fly ball outs from Mookie Betts and Chris Taylor later, the Reds were back in the dugout.
With the top of the bullpen stretched thin due to pitching the previous two games, Cessa came back for the 8th. The 29-year-old cut through the heart of the Dodger lineup, retiring the side in order. Cessa has a nifty 3.59 xFIP since coming to the Reds.
That left Michael Lorenzen
to close out the 9th. Lorenzen had pitched the previous two games but only thrown a total of 24 pitches.
Plus, have you seen the guy? He’s an actual Michelangelo David.
Lorenzen gave up a hit batter and run-scoring two-out single to make the score 3-1. Then, in a moment that reminded every Reds fan of a certain age of the countless times Albert Pujols broke their hearts in a stupid Cardinals uni, the Dodgers summoned the 41-year-old nightmare maker to pinch hit. On Lorenzen’s second pitch, Pujols indeed lined the ball into center field. But thankfully, Delino DeShields Jr. was positioned there to catch it.
The Reds offense scraped together three runs, mostly thanks to Kyle Farmer
. Farmer and Tucker Barnhart
teamed up to snap a 0-0 deadlock in the 5th inning. Farmer’s double and Barnart’s looping single to center produce the game’s first run. Barnhart had to fight off a 79.7 mph knuckle curve for the hit. An inning later, Farmer followed singles by Joey Votto
and Nick Castellanos
with yanking a Buehler fastball into the left field corner for his second double of the night. It drove in two runs and finished the Reds scoring.
The crucial run production must have felt extra-sweet for Farmer, who had been drafted in the 8th round by the Dodgers in 2013. Farmer was then told by the Dodger brass he wasn’t good enough to play shortstop as he had done at the University of Georgia. Farmer has put together an excellent season in the field at short for the Reds.
Farmer came to Cincinnati as part of the blockbuster Homer Bailey-Yasiel Puig trade
before the 2019 season. Farmer is the only one of the seven players in that deal still with either club.
[The best player the Reds acquired in that trade, Alex Wood
, got hurt and only pitched 35 innings in 2019. Wood has started 23 games and having a terrific 2021 season starting for the first-place San Francisco Giants.]