Rusney Castillo shares a laugh with David Ortiz before Wednesday night's game. (Getty Images)

Why you should have cared about Wednesday's Red Sox loss: Rusney Castillo played a major league baseball game

Rob Bradford
September 17, 2014 - 6:12 pm
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(For the final month of the regular season, "Closing Time" will be called "Why you should have cared," looking beyond the final score -- at a time when losses are arguably more valuable to the Sox than wins (for draft and waiver position) -- for either meaningful signs for 2015 or simple aesthetic considerations.) PITTSBURGH -- Instant analysis came fast and furious. Rusney Castillo had just been thrown out after squibbing what amounted to a swinging bunt toward third base. The at-bat was his first as a major leaguer, and encompassed four pitches, ending with the righty hitter finding himself out in front of a Francisco Liriano changeup. That was it? How come he didn't beat it out? Where was the electricity? Of course it was unfair. Castillo is a 27-year-0ld with just about 50 professional at-bats under his belt after not having played for more than a year. He arrived at the team hotel at 12:30 p.m. and boarded a bus for his first big league game 30 minutes later. After finding his uniform and meeting with the coaching staff, he met with the media and then got ready for batting practice. Dig in. Every little thing the $72.5 million man does from now until the end of the regular season is going to be scrutinized. And it all started in the second game of the Red Sox' series at PNC Park, a 9-1 loss to the Pirates. Castillo finished his first major league game having little impact on the outcome, at least coming away with his first major league hit (an infield single Pittsburgh second baseman Neil Walker could only knock down). In final two at-bats Castillo flew out to center field and grounded out to shortstop (first-ball swinging in the ninth). In all, he saw 11 pitches. "He's aggressive. He's going to hit the ball where it's pitched," Farrell said. "Wasn't really challenged defensively. Makes a decent running catch out in left-center field. For his debut, first action, didn't look overmatched, didn't look overwhelmed in the situation." In the field, the center fielder got one lone chance, making a running catch on a Liriano fly ball to center field to end the fifth inning. In fairness to Castillo, few Red Sox players did much of anything Wednesday night, with Xander Bogaerts' ground out, scoring Bryce Brentz, accounting for the visitors lone run. Castillo was, however, the one Red Sox who exited the clubhouse with a smile on his face. With his new Red Sox bag swung over his shoulder, just before heading for the team bus, Sox clubhouse manager Tom McLaughlin handed the outfielder a ball wrapped in a sanitary sock. The rookie was confused at first by what it was, but after an explanation from translator Adrian Lorenzo, he allowed himself a huge grin. "I'€™m pretty satisfied with that being my first game. obviously you'€™d like a better outcome in terms of winning the game," Castillo said, "but I was pretty satisfied with my overall approach and the way I stepped in today and had some results. Overall, satisfied." OTHER REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT TUESDAY'€™S GAME -- For the first time in a while, Clay Buchholz was not good. Not good at all. The Red Sox starter took the loss allowed five runs over four innings, throwing just 73 pitches. He would have pitched one inning less if Christian Vazquez hadn't made the final out in the fourth. (Brentz was on deck for the starter.) Coming into his most recent start, Buchholz had totaled a 3.18 ERA and .202 batting average against in his last seven appearances. "Actually, I felt fastball velocity was better. Felt good before the game," he said. "Last four or five games, I made mistakes during the game, but I didn't seem to pay for them. Every mistake I made tonight, I ran into a club that's swinging the bat real well right now. Everybody knows they have a good lineup. If you don't command the pitches like you're meant to against a lineup like that, that's how you get hit." -- Brentz supplied perhaps the highlight for the Red Sox, claiming his first major league hit while pinch-hitting for Buchholz. The outfield rifled a line-drive into the left field corner for a leadoff double in the fifth. "I think the hardest part is just to control all the emotions," Brentz said. "Knowing I was about to go up and pinch-hit, I had a lot of things going through, a lot of adrenaline. Took a first-pitch ball one, and I was thinking, come and get aggressive. He threw a changeup, and I had to take a deep breath and step back and try to slow it down a little bit and luckily put a good swing on it. Got another changeup and didn't try to do too much and got a hit." -- Steven Wright, who had pitched well enough to be considered for a start before the end of the regular season, was roughed up in relief of Buchholz. The knuckleballer gave up four runs on five hits over just one inning. -- Another September call-up, Garin Cecchini sailed a ball over first baseman Will Middlebrooks' head in the seventh on a Starling Marte grounder. (Cecchini did make a solid play getting to the ball.) It was the first inning the rookie had come on, giving Middlebrooks his first action at first base.
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