Wilkin Castillo’s perseverance paid off after a decade in the minors trying to return to the major leagues.
Castillo hit a go-ahead two-run double in the seventh inning in his first game back in the majors in 10 years, lifting the Miami Marlins to a 5-3 victory over the struggling Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday.
Castillo hadn’t played in the big leagues since June 20, 2009, with the Cincinnati Reds. The 35-year-old catcher suffered a torn labrum in his right shoulder and bounced around the minors before he was called up from Triple-A on Friday.
“It’s something indescribable,” Castillo said. “It’s a lot of effort. Just being out, playing winter ball, Dominican League, Mexican League and minor league for so many years — 10 years — and then just being up here and seeing things happening. I thank God. I thank the Marlins for giving me the opportunity to be here on the major league level.”
The Phillies have lost six in a row and 15 of 21. They’ve fallen five games behind NL East-leading Atlanta after holding a 3½-game lead before their skid began on May 29.
“We’re not playing good baseball, period,” manager Gabe Kapler said.
Austin Brice (1-0) struck out two in a perfect sixth for the last-place Marlins, who’ve won three in a row. Wei-Yin Chen tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings and José Quijada retired César Hernández on an infield popup for the final out with the bases loaded for his first save in his seventh big-league appearance.
Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins hit back-to-back homers for the Phillies. JT Riddle hit a solo shot for Miami.
Kapler was ejected for the first time in his managerial career for arguing after Scott Kingery struck out swinging in the fourth. The pitch appeared to hit Kingery. Fans gave Kapler a standing ovation during the argument and after he was tossed. Kapler kicked dirt toward plate umpire Chris Guccione before leaving the field.
Kapler said he was upset because Kingery “was not on first base.”
First-base umpire Mike Everitt cited Rule 5.09 (6) that says a batter is out if he “attempts to hit a third strike and the ball touches him.”
“Chris ruled hit by pitch but he came to me for the appeal and I ruled that he offered at the pitch,” Everitt said.
Phillies starter Vince Velasquez retired 15 of 16 batters, allowing Riddle’s homer and striking out five. The right-hander made a strong case to remain in the rotation.
Miami’s Elieser Hernández gave up three runs and four hits in five innings, striking out six.
Down 3-1, the Marlins rallied against Adam Morgan (2-2) in the seventh. Garrett Cooper walked to start the inning and Brian Anderson followed with a single. Starlin Castro’s RBI single cut it to 3-2.
After Anderson got caught in a rundown and was tagged out on César Puello’s grounder to first, Riddle popped out to shortstop. Edubray Ramos replaced Morgan and Castillo ripped his first pitch off the right-field fence to score both runners, giving Miami a 4-3 lead.
“Once I squatted behind the plate, I don’t know if it was nervous but I felt weird,” Castillo said. “It was something about my body just being there and seeing the whole scenario, but after we pitched (to) the first batter I started feeling more comfortable for everything in the game.”
Anderson’s RBI single off JD Hammer in the eighth extended the lead to 5-3.
After Riddle gave the Marlins a 1-0 lead in the third on his second homer, the Phillies answered in the bottom half. Harper lined his 13th homer out to right and Hoskins drove his 16th into the seats in left-center.
Harper’s RBI single to left gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead in the fifth. He was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.
Marlins: Cooper was back in the lineup for the first time since Wednesday after experiencing left triceps tightness. He hit a single to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.
Phillies: RHP Tommy Hunter is scheduled to make a rehab appearance on Sunday with Class A Clearwater. Hunter has been out since spring training with right forearm strain.
RHP Enyel De Los Santos (0-0, 6.43 ERA) makes his first start for the Phillies and RHP Jordan Yamamoto (2-0, 0.00) goes for the Marlins on Sunday.
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