Final R H E
Milwaukee Brewers (89-80)
5 5 1
Cincinnati Reds (73-86)
3 9 0
W: Anderson (8-4) L: Castillo (15-8) SV: Hader (37)
Statcast | Box Score | Game Thread

Thursday’s game against the postseason-bound Brewers marked a number of endings for the Cincinnati Reds: the final game to be called by longtime radio announcer Marty Brennaman; the home finale for the 2019 season; a likely white-flag-waving of Eugenio Suarez’s chase for the NL home run crown; and the last time that an unknown number of current Reds will enjoy the view from the first-base dugout.

It also marked the final trip to the mound this season for Luis Castillo. While the Reds have continued to fare well overall in games that he starts, Castillo hasn’t pitched as effectively during the second half of the season as he did prior to the All-Star break, when he earned a ticket to Cleveland on the back of an 8-3 record and a 2.29 ERA. At the time, opposing batters were hitting just .169/.286/.276 off of him, although his walk rate (4.5/9) was worrisome.

In his 13 second-half starts prior to Thursday’s game, meanwhile, Castillo sported a 4.52 ERA. The opposition hit .238/.289/.419 off of him in that time, but his walk rate plunged to 2.5/9. In other words, the OBP was similar, but the drop in walks was offset by an increase in hits (on average, Castillo has given up two more per game during the second half), so the damage has been greater. Overall, though, Castillo has been a joy to watch pitch every fifth day, and after a season in which he and Sonny Gray each struck out more than 200 batters, spring training 2020 can’t get here soon enough.

When Castillo took the mound on Thursday, it was his fifth time to face Milwaukee this season. His two starts at Miller Park were disastrous, as he pitched a combined 6 1/3 innings and gave up 10 hits, 8 walks and 8 earned runs. At Great American Ball Park, though, Castillo was electric, yielding just two hits and one run over 14 2/3 innings while striking out 18. (This being 2019, the Reds still managed to lose one of those two home games.)

He got off to a strong start on Thursday, throwing only nine pitches during a 1-2-3 first. In the bottom half of the inning, Aristides Aquino crushed a two-out, 1-1 pitch — described by Brennaman as a “high, towering drive” — into the second deck for his 18th home run, the team’s franchise-record 223rd longball of the season.

Castillo needed 12 pitches to retire the Brewers in order the second and another dozen to do so in the third, when he pitched around a leadoff infield single on a deflected ground ball. In the fourth, however, the wheels fell off. After getting ahead 0-2 on Brewers leadoff batter Yasmani Grandal, Castillo threw four straight balls that were just low of the strike zone. Castillo’s next three pitches to Keston Hiura were also out of the zone, and after finally throwing a strike, Hiura drew a walk. After a strikeout and a groundout, a visibly frustrated Castillo walked his third batter of the inning to load the bases.

Orlando Arcia then hit a 1-1 pitch into left-center where Josh VanMeter tried to make a catch on the run, only to have the ball pop out of his glove. It was scored a double, and the Reds suddenly found themselves down 3-1. On the next pitch, Ben Gamel clubbed a line drive to left that VanMeter tried to snag with an ill-advised diving catch (Brennaman said VanMeter had “no chance at all”), plating another run. Castillo ended up throwing 34 pitches before collecting the third out – one more than he pitched in the first three innings combined.

Castillo’s troubles continued in the fifth, when he issued a one-out walk before yielding back-to-back hits — one of which was bobbled by VanMeter, making his bad day in the field even worse — that increased the Brewers’ lead to four. It proved to Castillo’s his final inning of 2019, and his final line for the day belied just how dominant he was during the game’s first three innings: 5 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 BB, 8 K. He threw 87 pitches and 14 of 23 first-pitch strikes.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Reds’ offense temporarily awoke from hibernation when Phillip Ervin hit a leadoff double and advanced to third on a Jose Iglesias groundout. Kyle Farmer — starting at third the day after Suarez hit his 49th home run of the year — then blooped a single into shallow left field to score Ervin and shrink the Brewers’ lead to three.

In the eighth, Ervin doubled again, and Iglesias subsequently drove him in with a double of his own. With two out, Suarez came to the plate as a pinch-hitter and was intentionally walked to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After fouling off three pitches, pinch-hitter Christian Colon was hit on the foot to load the bases. Jose Peraza then popped out to end the threat. (“That has been the essence of this ballclub the entire season — the lack of key hitting,” Brennaman said.)

The Reds bullpen was lights-out on the day, as Kevin Gausman, Michael Lorenzen and Robert Stephenson combined to throw four perfect innings, striking out six along the way.

For the radio broadcast, Brennaman — who choked up several times during the broadcast — called all nine innings rather than temporarily yielding the play-by-play to Jeff Brantley as usual. In the fifth, he took the time to advocate for Pete Rose’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame, saying that his opinion had swung completely since Rose earned a lifetime ban and that the steroid era left a worse stain on the sport than the actions of Charlie Hustle. “That Hall of Fame will never be whole until the day comes that Pete Rose is in it,” Brennaman said. “My biggest fear is that one day he will be in it, but he will be elected after he is no longer with us — and if that should occur, that will be the grossest injustice of them all.”

Despite the loss, the Reds ended 2019 with a winning record at home, their first time in five seasons to do so. It marked the team’s fourth consecutive season in which they drew less than 2 million fans.

The Reds will end the season on the road against the Pirates. Anthony DeSclafani will start game 1 of the series tomorrow night.

22 Responses

  1. Aaron

    It’s so obvious to me Hader uses his Crucifix to distract hitters. He has his jersey unbuttoned at the top, and the crucifix on its gold chain pops out after every pitch… and he does the same routine, he walks to back of mound and puts it back in his jersey after the pitch. It’s a prop, nothing more, and its pretty pathetic that he would use a religious symbol that means a lot to certain people as a way of trying to hinder the batter’s vision. What a creep. And he looks like s barfly. I predict he is out of baseball in less than 5 years.

      • Aaron

        I have been watching Hader. First thing he does coming out of the bullpen is adjust his jersey making sure it is loose, and his top button is undone. Then he tucks his pendant on a chain underneath it. After every pitch he delivers it pops out during the delivery. His routine is the same every time he walks to back of mound with his back to home plate and tucks his chain and pendant back inside the loose jersey knowing full well it will pop out again on the next pitch. How else do you explain that other than a tactic to distract the batter during his deliver, the cross pops out each time probably flashing a little light. I mean it could just be a superstitious thing, but why keep his jersey loose so it happens on every pitch? Just watch the guy you will see what I am talking about, its a tactic. I know it sounds crazy but I have studied him carefully and his routine is very deliberate.

  2. Alex

    There are days when the Reds are hitting and look like a playoff team. But more often than not the Reds appear to be playing baseball for the first time ever. Marty festivities aside, what a sad time to be a Reds fan.

    • TR

      Not so sure. This years finish is somewhat of an improvement over the last four years. Sadness hit me in 1989 when Pete Rose was banned from baseball.

      • sanantonefan

        Sadness hit me when the Reds traded Tony Perez….yep, I’m an old guy.

  3. daytonnati

    Well, I guess the mystery of who replaces Marty is over? Both he and Cowboy are talking about Tommy and Cowboy “next year.”

  4. SultanofSwaff

    IMO, Aquino has broken thru and established himself as a bona fide major leaguer. That said, I’d still make a run at Castellanos in free agency and worry about the details later.

    Part of me feels like this Marty farewell week was purposely over the top to distract from the dumpster fire on the field.

    • TR

      Aquino and Castellanos would look good in the Reds outfield. Except for Fox blacking out Cincinnati, I thought Marty’s departure was handled well. At 46 years, Marty was at the mike for almost a third of Red’s history.

  5. NorMichRed

    I’m a little bit baffled that DB would sit Eugenio in the final game of the home season, particularly when he’s in a chase for the NL HR crown with only 4 games remaining (before today). And then, he absolutely got schooled on bench management by Craig Counsell who deftly took away Suarez’ one chance to make an impact on the game by delivering the IBB from Hader. You could see that playing out from a mile away. My biggest critique is Bell’s consistent frustrating way of playing himself into a corner. Maybe chess lessons in the off-season would be appropriate. On the plus side, the outside appearances are that he runs a good clubhouse and the team bonds well as a group, in spite of considerable underachievement on the part of many.

    • Ed

      Yup I agree with all of this, completely. I cannot imagine Bell’s plan was for Eugenio to walk, with the understanding that Colón would then somehow manufacture the RBI during the high leverage situation- instead of just playing Suárez at 3rd for the whole game and let him do his thing … puzzling. Colón has been good, but to turn to him at that moment is just raw mismanagement. Same boat- Peraza up with the bases loaded. I wish the wheels didn’t cone off so often, but yikes. This has been rough.

  6. FreeHouse

    This has to be one of the worst offensive seasons I’ve witnessed. Totally horrible! This team wasted good pitching all year long. #GetCastellanos

  7. Rut

    I would look hard at Aquino to CF, Senzel to 2b, and pray/overpay for Castellanos.

    If we can trot Winker out in CF on occasion, no reason we couldn’t play Aquino there more regularly.

  8. Sidney

    I make a couple of trips to Cincy to see games every season, but being 7 hours away, the overwhelming majority of my Reds entertainment over the decades has come from Reds on radio, and obviously more recently Reds by radio on computer. Nothing better than a nice summer evening on the back porch listening to Reds on radio, but this is where I jump off. I may be an old timer and in the minority, but I can listen to them stink with Marty – I’m not willing to invest that time into listening to them stink with anyone else. And let’s be realistic – there’s no reason to think they won’t continue to stink. I’ll still root for them and follow them, but only by checking the box score the day after – no more following during the game. Feels like losing a long time family pet or something similar, but it’s been fun.

    • Mason Red

      I listened to the game yesterday because it was all about Marty. The Reds just happened to be there. I can no longer go to Reds games,can barely watch Reds games and I won’t listen to Reds games now that Marty is gone. I tuned in occasionally the past few years to listen to Marty because of the nostalgia of the experience that use to be when the Reds were successful and relevant. This franchise is just sad and much like I gave up on the Bengals in the late 90s I have now completely given up on the Reds. I gave the rebuild a chance but it’s been a disaster from the get go. I’m not investing money by going to GABP or invest emotionally by watching/listening to Reds games. It’s just not worth it.

  9. Ed

    Watching the A’s v Mariners. It’s a lopsided contest, but at the top of the 2nd, the A’s slugger Matt Chapman took a walk, then hustled from first all the way home on a single after reading the throw from right field to the cutoff man. I am really dismayed to look at what the Reds have in offer, in such stark contrast to the historical legacy of the Reds, and realize no one on this team could have made that play happen… the combination of sensible at bats with heads-up, aggressive base running, all tethered to serious slugging and a killer bullpen. It’s absolutely, 100% opposite to the Reds. All the way down the lack of quality starting pitching, with our own castoffs homer and Roark delivering the goods…. the opposite of our team this year. Sadly, I couldn’t even begin to figure out how to steer the team in this other, superior direction. The solution goes so far beyond relying on people like Raisel Iglesias, or Yasmani Grandal… it’s a real dramatic philosophical shift that needs to happen if the team is going to play good ball, and I really hope whomever makes the decisions can figure out how absurdly mismatched they are. I’m predicting a couple losses to the stinking Pirates, and if the same lineup comes out next year, we all know what to expect. Gotta love JVM, and Peraza sure had a nice year last year – but these dudes are terrible, terrible outfielders, and I seriously doubt they will ever, ever bat above league average. Senzel and Winker have struggled with injury. I really hope the move to go “all in” means radical changes to the roster, but also a radical shift on how the future youngsters in the minors are groomed for the bigs.

    • Ed

      Yep- and to clarify my rambling post from last night, that is exactly my point- the A’s have had to use a cobbled-together staff of mostly unassuming, journeyman pitchers, but they have a fantastic record- they crush the Astros and Yanks- because their bats are consistent, they consistently demonstrate aggressive + heads-up base running, and they have great, great defense. It’s the opposite of the “get the pitching” mantra- they seem to have a totally holistic approach to putting together a team that is just plain strong.

      And to close this line of thought out- that is why I seriously can’t imagine our Reds making a really significant comeback next next spring… the base-running is really just not good, with even the veteran ball players like Votto and Barnhart seriously lacking speed and attitude… the fielding is not very good, with (for example) Peraza, Winker and Van Meter both flubbing many, many plays- I’d have to look, but I’d be able to point to nearly 10 absurd blunders each. plus, we have no clear, durable candidate to handle centerfield. I love, love watching Gray and Castillo. But how the Reds FO and scouts didn’t see this coming is sorta beyond me.

      I appreciate the front office being “aggressive”, but when you evaluate what we’ve got and compare to what others have- it just feels like there are fundamental, bigger-picture problems this ball club has right now, and it feels as a fan a little bit like I’ve been so dazzled by the pitching, that I tolerate a weak overall ballclub.

  10. Still a Red

    Got to have Winker and Senzel hit up to expectation. Aquino has come down to earth a bit, but if he can maintain at a .270 home run hitter, that would work. Don’t expect another 50 HRs from Suarez, but another ‘typical’ year for him will do. Hard to say what we have in JVM given his freshman status…but he should be playing second base next year. What can we say about Joey…the power I think is gone, but he should still be able to hit for average and doubles. Have to find the best place for him in the lineup. Keep Iggy at SS, unless we can score a FA there. All pitchers come back healthy and put up similar numbers. Hope springs eternal.

  11. Alex

    My favorite Fay article of 2019 was the one where he said the Reds future is bright with VanMeter and O’Grady. There is a cloud of delusion over this city.