Something hasn’t been quite right with Dereck Rodríguez over his last few starts. Though he only allowed four runs on five hits — none of them earned — he never seemed to settle in during Friday’s 7-0 loss to the Reds.
On the other hand, Cincinnati’s (17-22) right-hander Luis Castillo found his stride early, and after a brief struggle zeroing in on the strike zone in the first, Castillo locked in, shutting San Francisco (16-22) out on two hits over six innings.
Rodríguez (L, 3-5, 5.05 ERA) allowed four walks Friday, matching the total in each of his last two starts. In his first five starts of 2019, spanning 28 innings, Rodríguez allowed just 11 runs on 23 hits, four homers and five walks. But over 13 innings in the last three outings since April 28 he’s allowed 18 runs (12 earned) on 20 hits, five dingers and 12 walks.
Rodríguez said he felt things went better Friday than in his previous two starts, but things still aren’t quite right. He said:
“I gave up quite a few walks today but if my memory serves—I think maybe [only] one of them hurt me. …. I feel like my command’s a little bit off the past two outings.”
Manager Bruce Bochy said despite the rocky second inning, Rodríguez seems to be climbing his way out of the rut of his previous two starts:
“I thought it was better tonight—the breaking ball, the changeup—but that one inning he started working pretty hard and lost the command. But overall I thought the stuff and the command
Friday, the Reds did all their damage against the 26-year-old righty in the second frame. After inducing a harmless Yasiel Puig pop out to right to lead off, Tyler Austin misplayed a ball in left that should have made Derek Dietrich out No. 2. Instead, it was the start of a rally that would bring nine Reds to the plate.
Bochy noted that Austin could benefit from some reps in the outfield to avoid flubs like the one Friday. He said:
“He just doesn’t have a lot of time out there and [when] you get a guy who’s swinging the bat the way he is, you try to find some time for
him occasionallyout there. But we’ll get some work out there with him and it’s going to get better, he’s played out there before, he just hasn’t been out there in a while.”
After José Iglesias came up next and slapped a single right back at Austin, Castillo popped out on a bunt attempt. It would have ended the inning but for the Austin error. And it even would have ended the inning for real if not for an unfavorable replay review. After catching the pop-up, Brandon Belt threw to Joe Panik at first to double off Iglesias, who was initially ruled out by first base umpire Ben May. But umpires in New York disagreed, and so it continued.
Rodríguez went on to give up a home run short of the cycle to the four batters who followed, including a deep liner off the bat of Nick Senzel to centerfield that Steven Duggar just missed catching. It was good for three bags and two RBI, and it was 4-0 Reds by the time the dust settled.
Of the extra outs and resulting extra pitches, Rodríguez said:
“Those are things that happen in the game. It was my job to try and pick them up and try and get the big out. And, you know, I wasn’t able to. It was a bad inning. I’m just happy I was able to bounce back after that and put up some zeroes.”
They were the only runs Cincinnati would score with Rodríguez on the mound, but nevertheless, the closest D-Rod came to a 1-2-3 inning was in the third when, despite a Brandon Crawford misplay to lead off, Rodríguez sent the next three Redlegs packing.
Castillo (W, 4-1, 1.76 ERA) had just one three-up-three-down inning, himself, but it was a much different night for him. He left the door open in the first for the Giants, walking Panik and Stephen Vogt to open the frame, but San Francisco failed to cash in, and it was the last realistic chance they had at getting to him.
Despite scattering five walks and a balk over six innings, Castillo matched a career-high with 11 strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 1.76, third-best in the major leagues.
Panik and Vogt tried repeatedly to get a rally started from the one and two holes for the home team but the middle of the order was asleep on the job.
Bochy said he was pleased with the pair’s production but expressed frustration with the team’s inability to cash-in. He said:
“Our table setters did exactly what you’re hoping for. Our one-two guys were on base a lot but we just couldn’t get that one hit to keep it going. They certainly had a nice game between the two of them [and] that’s a tough night when you don’t score when you get those guys on the way they got on tonight.”
Panik hit 1-for-2 with a double and three walks while Vogt went 3-for-4 with a pair of singles, a double and a walk, but the following three batters— Evan Longoria, Belt
Castillo has been stifling just about every team he’s seen in 2019, though, so the Giants aren’t necessarily special in that regard. He won pitcher of the month for March/April, and he’d never allowed more than two runs in any start before the four runs he allowed to San Francisco at the Great American Ballpark last weekend.
Belt said the difficulty in facing Castillo is related to several factors, but most notably his velocity and the deception behind his delivery:
“Everything he throws looks like he’s about to throw a fastball so he’s just pretty deceptive in that way. And on top of that, he throws pretty much 100-mph, so he’s pretty tough. Definitely one of the tougher guys I’ve seen.”
Cincinnati buried San Francisco with three more runs against Travis Bergen in the ninth, but it was nothing more than an added insult to injury.
Jeff Samardzija (2-1, 3.16 ERA) will take on fellow-righty Anthony DeSclafani (2-1, 3.65 ERA) in the penultimate match of the season-series between the Giants and Reds Saturday. Samardzija faced the Reds in his last start as well. He allowed a single followed by back-to-back-to-back homers from Eugenio Suárez, Jesse Winker and Dietrich in the bottom of the first inning in his May 5 outing in Cincinnati before pitching another four hitless in the 6-5 San Francisco victory. First pitch Saturday is set for 6:05 p.m. at Oracle Park.
Bochy said Belt was removed in a double-switch in the ninth inning as a result of right knee inflammation. Belt has had surgery twice on the knee, the last of which came after he hyperextended it last July during interleague play in Seattle. According to Bochy he will undergo an MRI and is expected to be out of commission for one to two days, but, naturally, Belt hopes to be back out there by Saturday.
Said Belt of the injury:
“It usually gets me every now and then, [sometimes] sliding into bases I jam it pretty good but it doesn’t typically bother me when I’m running. It just bothered me when I was running tonight, so that’s just a little inflammation in there and we’ll take care of it. I mean, it’s sore sometimes, [but] you play with soreness, so it’s not a big deal. …Structurally, everything I think is pretty dang good.”