4/24 Extra bases
The Cubs’ lineup continues to evolve. On Saturday, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney each had at least three hits and three RBIs, marking the first time since Aug. 13, 1959, the Cubs’ Nos. 1-2 hitters did that, according to Elias Sports Bureau. In ’59, it was Tony Taylor and George Altman. But on Sunday, Kosuke Fukudome was leading off and Castro was batting third.
“If I mix and mtach the first three guys, I don’t care where [they are],” Cubs manager Mike Quade said. “It’s a credit to all the kids and all the guys that they’ve handled the flexibility and done the job I’ve asked them.”
* Quade also isn’t afraid to go against the so-called book and did so Saturday when he stayed with Jeff Baker against Dodgers right-hander Matt Guerrier even though he had three left-handers on the bench.
“The book matters to me,” he said, “but it ain’t the Bible.”
* Despite being only 21 and not having played a full Major League season, Starlin Castro is showing a lot of maturity at the plate this season. He ranks second in the National League in fewest strikeouts per plate appearances with 18.6, trailing only the Phillies’ Placido Polanco (21.8). Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez is tied for fourth at 14.2.
In 20 games this year, Castro has struck out five times. In his first 23 games of his Major League career last season, he had fanned 11 times. How does he do it?
“If I knew that definitively, I would like to think I would use it to help myself hit,” Quade said. “I don’t know if it’s a combination of hand-eye coordinatiuon and the bat speed you need to combine with that to allow you to do that.
“The other thing that’s amazing to me is guys like him that do all that, he’ll foul a lot of balls off that are out of the strike zone,” Quade said. “I don’t think that’s something you teach, it’s just a part of your swing and who you are.”
* Minor League roving catching instructor Marty Pevey was with the big league team. “Even though he’s not a part of this staff on a regular basis, I want to make him part of the staff on a regular basis,” Quade said.
* Catcher Geovany Soto has thrown out eight of 27 runners, and the eight caught steals leads Major League catchers.
— Carrie Muskat