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Earlier this season, Castillo looked like a bust. The Cuban prospect was paid a boatload of money to come to Boston and play center field. Instead, he spent 40 games in Triple-A Pawtucket to try to find his batting stroke. Now with the big club, playing right field alongside fellow youngster Mookie Betts in center, Castillo has finally been showing his true worth.
Gordon Edes of ESPN reported, “A friend of [Castillo’s] texted him on Sunday, reminding him that it was a year ago to the day that he had signed a seven-year, $72.5 million contract.”
At 28 years of age, the native of Ciego de Avila, Cuba has had only 190 at-bats in his MLB career, 154 this season, making it difficult for him to develop any form of consistency. It’s hard to learn how to hit MLB pitchers when you were expected to be successful immediately and then sent down when it didn’t come. Edes reported Castillo saying after the game:
"“That’s why I never tried to get ahead of myself, get too high or too low […] because I was confident it would come at some point. But I just had to focus on the task at hand every day, day after day, and thankfully it’s worked out.’’"
Those words are the proper stuff of a mature veteran who understands how to bring the sunlight on his game. Take care of your business and the light will shine down on you in good time.
In last night’s game, those rays of light didn’t seem, at first, to be poking out of the evening sky for Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly. In the bottom of the first inning, White Sox designated hitter Jose Abreu hit a solo-shot into the right field bleachers to take the early lead. With Chicago countering on the mound with ace Jeff Samardzija, it seemed more like the rain was coming for Beantown, fast.
Aug 19, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Joe Kelly (56) at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
After that, both pitchers settled down, making fairly quick work of the opposing batters. It wasn’t until the top of the sixth inning that Castillo, once again, brought the heat that formed clouds over Samardzija. With runners at first and second, Castillo doubled to right field, scoring both Ramirez and Holt for the second time. Castillo tried stretching to third base while the White Sox attempted to throw Holt out at the plate, but Chicago’s catcher Tyler Flowers made a good throw to third to get Castillo out. However, the damage had already been done for a 5-1 lead.
A single, a passed ball, and a walk later, Samardzija’s night was over.
In the bottom of the sixth, White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera grounded out to cash in Adam Eaton from third and bring the deficit to 5-2. However, Kelly held his own ground and got out of the inning. He lasted until the bottom of the eighth, when he was relieved by Robbie Ross, whom held the lead for his starter.
With some of the bullpen trouble that the Red Sox have been having, since closer Koji Uehara fractured his wrist, the team tried Jean Machi in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory. With one out and one runner on second, Avisail Garcia singled softly past Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval and scored Abreu to start the comeback at 5-3. Alexei Ramirez then smacked a grounder to Sandoval who took the forceout at second, allowing Garcia to score to make it 5-4. Thankfully for the Red Sox, Carlos Sanchez was nice enough to fly out to foul territory near left field, which ended the game.
- Xander Bogaerts was also hit by a Samardzija pitch in the top of the third inning. However, nothing came from it and didn’t factor into the result.
- Betts stole second base in the top of the ninth inning, his 17th of the season; however, in the confusion, he tried stealing third, as well, and was called out.
- Possibly, but doubtful, because of yesterday’s BSI comparison of Josh Donaldson to himself on defense, Sandoval did make a fantastic dive onto the rolled-up tarp to catch a foul ball from Adam LaRoche in the second inning.
- The Red Sox went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, leaving nine on base. The White Sox went 1-for-8, leaving three on base.
- Sandoval continued to hit in the two-spot in the lineup. The strategy resulted in going 1-for-5 with three strikeouts, making his season batting average .259. Holt, who hit from the same spot for much of the season, went 2-for-3 with a walk, a strikeout, and crossed the plate twice while hitting from the seven-hole. His average is .290.
- After a hot summer, Ortiz cooled off last night, going 0-for-4 and has now brought his average down to .262. Travis Shaw was just as cold, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.
- Ramirez was substituted with Jackie Bradley Jr. defensively in the bottom of the eighth inning. Should we wait with held breaths if it was because of another injury after he was hit by that pitch?
This is Kelly we’re talking about, the man who could, seemingly, do nothing right for most of the season. Now, he’s gone 5-1 in his last seven starts, allowing a combined three measly runs in the last three appearances. He went 7.1 innings last night, allowing five hits, striking out four batters, and provided a walk only once. In 103 pitches, 66 of them were strikes, while keeping the ball low enough to force 14 groundouts to only two flyouts.
It would seem, at least in this game, that Kelly has learned to impose his will as a groundball pitcher, instead of a high-ball chucker. That’s lovely that he throws incredibly fast, but if opposing hitters are going to bash them like beach balls at the oceanside then Kelly should start making his home at low-tide from now on.
Ross did his job, going 0.2 innings to hold the lead without any damage. Machi did earn his second save of the year, but he also allowed two earned runs to score on three hits, and made the game much closer than it should have been.
If the grade was only for Castillo, it would have been A+. He went 3-for-4 with five RBIs, including a home run. Except for a strikeout, in which he was trying to protect Holt stealing on the base paths, it looked like Castillo would never fail at the plate. In the last 15 games, Castillo has a slash line of .393/.433/.643 with three home runs, 15 RBIs, and even a stolen base. As far as his career is concerned in the Red Sox outfield, Castillo’s life is so bright that he has to wear shades.
As far as the rest of the team is concerned, however, seven out of the 11 team hits came from the seven, eight, and nine spots in the lineup. Three of them were from Castillo, who was solely responsible for all five RBIs on the night. The rest of the team got four hits and eight out of 11 strikeouts. That’s just not going to cut it if the Red Sox want to improve for next season.
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