Wilmington, DE - The Wilmington Blue Rocks (36-31) continued to roll offensively while All-Star LHP Cristian Castillo dazzled on the mound, stifling the first-place Salem Red Sox (40-26) in an 8-0 rout at Frawley Stadium Thursday night. Castillo set a season-high with his eight innings of scoreless work and allowed just three hits and struck out four in his best start of the season. Seven different Blue Rocks picked up a hit while Travis Maezes paced the offense with three hits and drove in a career-high five runs. The Rocks have posted back-to-back shutout victories while outscoring their opponents 17-0 in that span.
The Rocks wasted no time getting on the board, battering Salem's starter RHP Roniel Raudes in the second inning. Wilmington sent ten men to the plate and cracked the scoreboard first with a Roman Collins RBI groundout to make it 1-0. Maezes followed with a two-out, two run double to make it 3-0 before an error on Salem's third baseman Michael Chavis plated another run. D.J. Burt capped of the scoring barrage with an RBI single to make it a 5-0 ballgame.
While Castillo continued to carve the Sox lineup, the Rocks added more runs in the eighth inning. Maezes highlighted the frame with an opposite field three-run blast to make it an 8-0 lead that the Rocks would go on to win by. Maezes finished a triple shy of the cycle and Chris DeVito clobbered three more extra-base hits in the win, finishing a home run shy of his second cycle of the season.
Castillo twirled eight scoreless innings and held the best offense in the league silent. It set a season-high for the southpaw and he fell an inning shy of tossing his first complete game since July 28 of last season. RHP Jacob Bodner came in the ninth inning and tossed a clean inning and picked up two strikeouts in the relief appearance.
Wilmington continues its final series of the first half at home on Friday, June 16 against Salem at 7:05 p.m. with RHP Scott Blewett (3-5, 4.36 ERA) getting the start for the Rocks. Salem will counter with RHP Michael Shawaryn (0-1, 6.23 ERA). Fans can listen to the game as Matt Janus and Cory Nidoh will have the call on 89.7 WGLS-FM.
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With the shutout win, the Rocks have now tossed their eighth shutout of the season and first back-to-back shutouts of the year. It also marks the second time Castillo was involved in a shutout performance by the pitching staff. He started the team's sixth shutout of the year back on May 23 against Lynchburg while Andrew Edwards, and Richard Lovelady finished the shutout effort. In the previous two seasons, Wilmington has combined for just 14 shutouts. Castillo is one of six Blue Rocks to be named to the Carolina League All-Star team along with Nicky Lopez, Anderson Miller, Foster Griffin, Richard Lovelady and Yunior Marte.
Chris DeVito continues to bash the baseball after snapping out of a 2-for-24 cold spell. Falling a home run shy of his second cycle Thursday night, the slugging first baseman has smashed five extra-base hits, including a home run, three doubles, and a triple to break out of the slump he had entering Wednesday night against Lynchburg. He has posted back-to-back three-hit games and now has 10 multiple-hit efforts in 34 games with Wilmington.
The Blue Rocks have outscored the top two teams in the Northern Division in Lynchburg and Salem 17-0 and have pounded 28 total hits in that span. On the mound, they have allowed just seven hits, two walks, have struck out 13 batters in the last 18 innings tossed. With the two consecutive dominant wins, the Blue Rocks ensured a winning record in the first half of 2017.
THEY SAID IT: Jamie Quirk
"I was proud of Cristian Castillo. His last outing was his roughest of the year. He lasted like three innings or so, had 90-some pitches, got knocked around. Here he is, facing the best team in the league five days later and he throws a gem. That was nice to see. He erased his last start. You forget about it, you come out and get your work in. From the get-go, he was very good tonight.
"(Wednesday), eight of our nine runs were with two-outs.(Thursday), I think four runs were (scored with two-outs). Those are backbreakers and we have done it two nights in a row. (Thursday night) we got production from the bottom part of our order. I don't think many managers have lost a game when your nine-hole hitter has five RBIs. That's a big day, a three-run home run (for Travis Maezes). Everybody is contributing, guys are getting the job done, situational hitting has been good, all the little things that you need to do to win a game.
"(On the big innings) It's solid at bats. Like we said, two-out RBIs, moving the line, nobody is trying to be a hero. Just do your job, get on base, keep the line moving but it's been quality at-bat after quality at-bat. Stringing hits together, getting on base, those are thing that create a lot of runs and a lot of good innings. We have had a lot of extra base hits. I think yesterday we had eight, and we had six extra base hits today. It's a result of quality at-bats, swinging at good pitches, getting in hitter's counts and taking advantage of it and that's what we have been doing.
"That's what is great about our game is you have another game tomorrow. You never know when that day is going to come where it just clicks. (Chris DeVito) has been working hard. No one ever wants to try to be in a slump. Slumps are more mental than physical and he was mentally just destroying himself. You click at some point, somewhere, sometime. I talk about just competing. Forget about all the mechanics, just compete. It's you against that pitcher, do your job. The last two days, he looks like a totally different guy.
"(On the team's reaction to still playing good baseball despite being eliminated) We just talked about don't mail it in. Yes, mathematically we are eliminated, but we had two more games with Lynchburg, we are playing teams ahead of us, we could wreak their seasons. Let's just stay focused, do what we do, be ready to come out ready to play and we have done that. I do sense that they relaxed a lot more, it was just like ok, we didn't get it done. You just keep going and build on this. The last couple of days I've seen a relaxed team just going out and playing. They know they are good. The defense has been outstanding. It really wasn't anything I said other than let's keep going, let's give Salem a run for their money. They haven't won it yet, make them earn it."
Cristian Castillo, Pitcher
"I felt really great. All my pitches really worked well and the defense played a great game too. In the beginning of the game, I had some trouble with my curveball. I was fighting only with my fastball, but for my last two innings, I got my pitches.
"Yeah, absolutely (on feeling stronger as the game went on). I had more command on my fastball, curveball, and changeup, they were all working better. I am really excited to be (an All-Star). We are working every day for good numbers and to be a good player so it will be exciting to represent the Blue Rocks."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.