CINCINNATI — Luis Castillo is known for his vaunted changeup, but the Cincinnati Reds ace tried to fool the St. Louis Cardinals with more fastballs and sliders Thursday on Opening Day of Major League Baseball season.
The result was disastrous in an 11-6 loss, as he gave up 10 runs, eight earned, on eight hits with two walks, a hit batter and threw a wild pitch that allowed Tommy Edman to score. For the first time in 69 starts, Castillo failed to strike out a batter.
“I don’t think we were specifically trying to throw fastballs early in the count and trying to mix in pitches afterwards,” Castillo said. “I think we were trying to mix them all at the same time. It didn’t work out.”
Castillo threw his changeup more than any other pitch each of the last two seasons when he went 19-14 with a 3.34 earned run average. On Thursday, though, he threw his change just 18 times in 73 pitches.
Now that Trevor Bauer is gone, having left for the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent, Castillo is Cincinnati’s No. 1 starter. He said he was disappointed to have let down Reds backers, about 7,000 of whom were allowed in for the opener, but he feels no pressure of being the team’s ace.
“The fans and the crowds are really what gives us motivation out there every time to do well,” Castillo said.
Castillo’s location was off in the opener. He attributed that, in part, to the 37-degree weather that produced snow flurries throughout the game. That was in stark contrast to the relative warmth of Arizona during spring training, as well as Castillo’s home in the Dominican Republic. Castillo said he never had pitched in snow and said he couldn’t feel his face.
“It’s definitely hard to throw in the cold,” Castillo said. “Obviously, I’m coming from the Dominican Republic and there were a couple of days it was cold in Arizona, but it was really, really cold out there (Thursday).
Castillo said he credited the Cardinals hitters for squaring up his pitches, as did manager David Bell, who said he isn’t concerned about his No. 1 starter’s rough outing.
“I actually thought he was throwing the ball pretty well,” Bell said. “He wasn’t dominating like we’re used to seeing, but at the same time I didn’t see anything concerning at all.