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Rays manager Kevin Cash has faith in struggling reliever Diego Castillo

The team’s de facto closer is blasted for four runs in a walkoff loss in the ninth to the Athletics on Thursday.
Rays relief pitcher Diego Castillo throws during the ninth inning against the Tigers on June 6, 2019, in Detroit. [CARLOS OSORIO   |   Associated Press]
Rays relief pitcher Diego Castillo throws during the ninth inning against the Tigers on June 6, 2019, in Detroit. [CARLOS OSORIO | Associated Press]
Published Jun. 22, 2019
Updated Jun. 22, 2019

OAKLAND, Calif. — Despite Diego Castillo’s worst outing of the season in the Rays’ 5-4 walkoff loss to the A’s on Thursday night, manager Kevin Cash said he would use the reliever again for a third straight day if the opportunity presented itself.

“Oh, he will (pitch) if he’s ready,” Cash said before Friday’s game against the A’s. “Yes, he will.”

Related: MORE RAYS: Rays’ Austin Meadows trying to regain form that made him All-Star Game starter finalist

Castillo allowed four runs in the ninth, walking two and allowing a run-scoring single before yielding a three-run walkoff homer to Matt Chapman.

Over Castillo’s past 10 outings, spanning 9⅓ innings, he has allowed 12 runs (nine earned), 13 hits, seven walks and two hit batters.

Castillo’s recent troubles are mostly rooted in command issues. His walk rate is 10 percent, up from 8.1 percent last season. On Thursday he needed 20 pitches to get through the first three hitters, walking two.

Related: MORE RAYS: Has Rays’ Yonny Chirinos graduated from bulk reliever to starting pitcher?

The Rays haven’t had many late leads recently, so the opportunities for Castillo, the team’s leading closer candidate with Jose Alvarado on the restricted list, have been limited. Thursday was his fifth appearance this month and his first outing on consecutive days since May 28-29.

Cash said he plans to let Castillo work through his struggles by keeping giving him more opportunities.

“There’s not a ton you can do in a nongame setting,” Cash said. “They’ve got to be ready. All relievers have got to be ready to pitch. He can get on to flat ground. I think the best thing for Diego is to get him back on the mound, put him in a situation where he can kind of let it go, and if that presents itself (Friday), we’ll do that.”

Miscellany

• Thursday’s loss marked the 18th time the Rays have allowed a walkoff homer since the beginning of the 2015 season, second-most in the majors over that span. The Indians have allowed 21.

• Athletics pitcher Frankie Montas, who held the Rays to one run over eight innings Thursday, retiring 17 of the last 18 hitters he faced, was handed an 80-game suspension by MLB on Friday for a positive PED test. The 26-year-old right-hander is 9-2 with a 2.70 ERA. The commissioner’s office said Montas tested positive for Ostarine. He is the sixth player suspended this year under the MLB drug program.

• A second “Rays to Rowdies” doubleheader was announced for June 29. For $30, fans will receive a 200 Level ticket to the 4 p.m. Rays game against the Rangers and a midfielder’s reserved ticket for the 8 p.m. Rowdies game against Ottawa. A complimentary parking pass for Tropicana Field lots is included.

Quote of the day

“If that was the case, we would have shown up at 7.”

— Cash, when asked whether the team’s decision to cancel batting practice was a reaction to Thursday’s, in the manager’s words, “crummy” loss. The Rays had previously decided not to have BP on Friday after traveling cross-country Wednesday night. They took BP before Thursday’s opener in Oakland, which is customary for the first day of a road series.

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Contact Eduardo A. Encina at eencina@tampabay.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard