Nick Castellanos will face his old team with some new pieces of wood.
The Cincinnati Reds outfielder slugged two home runs, including a grand slam, against St. Louis as his team snapped a four-game losing streak on Wednesday. Battling for a National League wild-card spot, the Reds will host the Detroit Tigers (63-72) for a three-game weekend series that begins on Friday.
“Both of those home runs were big. That got us going in the right direction right from the beginning of the game,” manager David Bell said. “Sometimes that’s a little bit more important than others. (Wednesday night) was one of those games.”
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt asked the umpires to check Castellanos’ bat after the grand slam. It was chipped, but the umpires ruled that it didn’t give Castellanos any type of advantage. They deemed that he could not use the bat again, and he wound up giving it to a youngster in the crowd.
“I decided to give that ‘dangerous’ piece of lumber to some lucky kid that was sitting above the dugout, so at the end of the day, everybody wins,” he said.
Cincinnati (72-63) had lost a makeup game to the Cardinals earlier in the day, 5-4. The 12-2 victory awoke the Reds from an offensive slumber. In their three other losses during the skid, they scored only one run each time.
Castellanos began his career with the Tigers, who traded him to the Chicago Cubs during the 2019 season. Castellanos, who signed a four-year, $64 million contract with Reds in January of 2020,is challenging for the batting title with a .319 average along with 26 home runs and 78 RBIs.
Right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez (9-5, 4.03 ERA) will start the series opener for Cincinnati. He’ll seek to bounce back from an outing against Miami in which he gave up five runs in three innings on Saturday.
He allowed a total of just six earned runs in his previous five August starts. The 25-year-old rookie will be facing Detroit for the first time.
The Tigers will counter with left-hander Tyler Alexander (2-2, 4.34 ERA). He gave up two runs in 2 2/3 innings to Toronto on Saturday in a relief appearance.
His last start came on Aug. 20, when he held the Blue Jays to one run on four hits in seven innings. He has faced the Reds just twice in his career, both in 2020, and he has a 1.69 ERA in 5 1/3 innings of relief.
Detroit will play six consecutive games in NL ballparks, which will cut into Miguel Cabrera’s playing time. Cabrera will see action at first base and as a pinch-hitter. He drove in three runs during the Tigers’ 8-6 win over Oakland on Wednesday and sat out Detroit’s 8-6 loss on Thursday.
Tigers manager AJ Hinch is hopeful catcher Eric Haase can heat up again in the middle of the order. Haase had one hit in five at-bats on Thursday and made the final out. Haase has 19 home runs in a breakout season but had just one in August.
“As I’ve always said with Haasey, he’s one swing away from changing course,” Hinch said. “He takes really aggressive swings and when he connects it can be game-changing. You keep going to the well to see if he gets that one swing that sets him off. When it does, he can really carry a team for a period of time.”
–Field Level Media