Welington Castillo might have found a home with an Arizona Diamondbacks team that's trying to remain relevant in the final two months of the season.
Perhaps the club's biggest surprise this season, Castillo should have a chance to continue his recent power surge and help the Diamondbacks move within one game of .500 on Saturday night against the visiting Cincinnati Reds.
Castillo belted his career-high 14th home run and Chase Anderson pitched seven strong innings in his return from the disabled list to lead Arizona (53-55) to a 2-0 victory Friday. Though the Diamondbacks are 8 1/2 games back of first place in the NL West and seven out of the final wild-card spot, they've won nine of the last 13 and improved to 10-1 when Castillo homers.
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"The most important thing is this team is giving me the opportunity to be out there every day and have a chance to be better and better every time," he told MLB's official website.
Playing for his third team this season, Castillo is batting .394 with seven home runs and 10 RBIs in his last 10 games. A former prized catching prospect with the Chicago Cubs, Castillo has hit all but two of his homers after being acquired by Arizona in the June 3 trade that sent Mark Trumbo to Seattle and is batting .299 with 25 RBIs in 43 games with the Diamondbacks.
"It's just getting the at-bats. He has a good swing," manager Chip Hale said. "If a pitcher makes a mistake, he's able to cash in."
Castillo also has built a good rapport with Diamondbacks pitchers, including rookie Robbie Ray (3-6, 3.01 ERA) despite him being 0-3 with a 4.44 ERA in five starts at home.
The left-hander also has gone 0-2 with a 4.98 ERA in four starts since winning at Texas on July 7, but makes his first appearance against a Cincinnati team that's been limited to 10 hits while being shut out in its last two contests.
Looking to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat, the Reds (48-59) were last blanked in three straight games April 18-21, 1989.
Though Cincinnati has totaled 14 runs while losing five of the last seven, Joey Votto's .468 batting average in his last 20 games is the highest in the majors since the All-Star break.
Teammate Todd Frazier, however, is hitting .114 with 14 strikeouts in the last 11 contests.
Cincinnati's Keyvius Sampson (0-1, 4.50) retired the first seven batters he faced during his first career start Sunday against Pittsburgh and yielded three runs and struck out six with a walk in five innings of a 3-0 defeat.
"I know there is always room to improve," he told MLB's official website. "Just going to work on things and be more consistent as far as my breaking stuff."
The right-hander was the 12th different pitcher to start for the Reds this season, and the fifth consecutive rookie to do so for Cincinnati. The latter hadn't happened since September 1935.
"He showed good stuff and he was around the plate," manager Bryan Price said. "He showed a four-pitch mix around the plate. I thought he had great composure for a guy making his (starting) debut. I was very impressed with the way he threw the baseball, and we look forward to seeing a lot more of Keyvius."
The Reds won't need to worry about facing veteran reliever Oliver Perez, whom the Diamondbacks dealt to Houston following Friday's game for a minor leaguer.