Results tagged ‘ Starlin Castro ’
The Cubs played their own version of overtime on Thursday, as pinch-hitter Julio Borbon hit a walk-off RBI single with two outs in the 14th to post a 6-5 victory over the Reds and avoid a four-game sweep. Maybe they were inspired by the Blackhawks, who beat the Bruins in triple overtime Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Cubs snapped the Reds’ Wrigley Field winning streak at 12, the longest by an opponent in franchise history.
“I feel a lot better now that we broke that streak,” Dale Sveum said. “If we have to play extra innings to beat them, we’ll play extra innings.”
With the game tied at 5, Starlin Castro singled to center against Jonathan Broxton. Anthony Rizzo struck out, and Castro stole second on the play, and moved to third when Alfonso Soriano grounded out. The Reds intentionally walked Nate Schierholtz, who hit two triples in the game, to face Borbon, who lined a 1-0 pitch to left.
“I was looking for a pitch to drive,” Borbon said. “I was looking for that pitch middle away to be able to stay on it, and I got it, and I was ready for it.”
The game-winning hit came five hours after the first pitch. Borbon kept loose on the chilly day by stretching in the weight room, but didn’t take any swings off the clubhouse batting tee.
“It’s my first walkoff,” Borbon said. “It was definitely worth the wait.”
Sveum thought the game might be over in the ninth when Castro smacked a ball off the outfield wall in left, and ended up with a double.
“He crushed that ball,” Sveum said. “That was a a shame — we would’ve been in New York by now.”
The six runs were unusual for the Cubs, who averaged 2.4 runs per game in their last eight games entering Thursday. This was Castro’s first game back in the No. 2 spot after being dropped to sixth and seventh for eight games.
“After today, I might put him somewhere else,” Sveum said.
Chicago pitchers combined to strike out a season-high 19 batters, and the relievers shut down the Reds for eight innings.
“It was a good team effort,” said Blake Parker, who struck out three over two innings in relief. “For me to go in a tight situation, and it’s the first game I’ve been in that’s a close game, and it felt good. It felt like I was right where I wanted to be.”
* This was the Cubs’ longest game since a 6-3, 14-inning win June 7, 2009, at Cincinnati.
* Jeff Samardzija gave up a season-high 10 hits. He’s now 0-1 with a 3.50 ERA in three starts vs. the Reds.
* Hector Rondon earned his first victory, striking out four over two innings. Carlos Marmol struck out the side in the 10th, and now has 701 career Ks.
– Carrie Muskat
After eight games in the bottom of the order, Starlin Castro was back in the No. 2 spot in the Cubs’ lineup on Thursday. The shortstop was dropped from second to seventh on June 4, and was inserted in the No. 6 spot on Wednesday. He went 2-for-28 in the eight games. Castro was batting .254 in 49 games in the No. 2 hole.
“We dabbled with it a little bit and obviously, the offense isn’t doing a whole lot with him down there,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Thursday. “It’s just getting back to where we were. He’s a guy who can swing the bat and we have all the confidence in the world he can come out of it. You need him up there more than three or four times. Hopefully, he can get that fifth at-bat.”
Castro isn’t the only one scuffling. Anthony Rizzo is batting .248, Darwin Barney .203, Luis Valbuena .238.
“There’s nobody right now who’s stepping up and doing anything in any position in the lineup,” Sveum said. “Sometimes you get to the point where you might want to pick the lineup out of a hat and see what happens.”
The Cubs were batting .158 in the last eight home games, and after Wednesday’s game, Rizzo mentioned that players aren’t having fun.
“Offensively, especially, you try to make guys understand these things are in cycles and go in cycles,” Sveum said. “You don’t use things as excuses but we’ve faced some pretty good pitching lately. You have to grind out the at-bats and all of a sudden it starts coming.”
– Carrie Muskat
Starlin Castro is back in the No. 2 spot in the Cubs lineup for Thursday’s series finale against the Reds. Here’s the lineup:
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was a guest on MLB Network’s “MLB Now” on Tuesday and talked with hosts Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds about a few topics:
* On the bullpen’s struggles:
“I think we’ve outscored our opponents by 30-plus runs in the first six innings. But innings seven, eight and nine, we’re getting killed. Our bullpen hasn’t shut down games. We’ve tried to mix and match in the bullpen so far, but that’s been our biggest struggle. I think we’re a solid team, but ultimately, you look at the Pirates for example, they dominate teams at the end of the game and we’re not there right now. That’s our biggest struggle right now. That’s what’s really separating us from being a team that’s right around .500.”
* On the Cubs’ offense:
“We still need to get on base more. We’ve hit for some power this year, but the on-base percentage has been a struggle. I think until we get on base more and grind out at-bats – I watch the Reds play with Choo and Votto. We don’t have that quality of at-bat yet, so I think that’s really holding us back a little bit.”
* On getting Starlin Castro to be more patient:
“He’s a great hitter. I think by the end of the year he’ll be back up by .300 and he’s a hit-maker. I think, with him, he has power. He’s a strong guy. I think the biggest challenge for him is getting into those counts where you can drive pitches. You’re not gonna hit a lot of home runs 1-2 in the count. You need to be up 2-0, 2-1. He’s getting better at that. He’s still developing that, but I think his power will come if he gets in better counts.”
* On getting Castro to go deeper in counts:
“It’s one that we talk about all the time because this guy is a slasher. He’s a guy that barrels up pitches all over the zone. It’s a good question. Do you try to teach a guy like that to get on base more and to get in better counts or do you just let him be and let him get his 200 hits? I think that’s a big question. I don’t think he can be the type of power player we think he can be without getting in those counts.”
* Theo Epstein wasn’t worried about shortstop Starlin Castro, who was 4-for-42 (.095) and batting .243 overall.
“I just think he’s in a slump and he’s going to turn it around pretty soon,” Epstein said Tuesday. “It’s tough, and I feel bad for him that he’s going through this and obviously, we’d love better production, and hopefully we will get better production going forward. In a way, it shouldn’t be unexpected. Baseball is a game of failure and adjustments. You’d like your players to fail in the Minor Leagues so they see what it’s like and come to terms with that and make their adjustments. Starlin is so talented that he has never really failed before, so this is the first extended stretch of failure that he’s had.”
Castro never played at the Triple-A level, and has 995 Minor League at-bats. He is one of the core players the Cubs are relying on, Epstein said.
“In the long run, I think this will be good for him,” Epstein said. “He’ll find his way out of it, and be a better player for it, and the
next time he falls into a slump he’ll know how to get out of it quicker. I think Starlin’s approach will evolve over the
years as it does for most players when they get a few thousand at-bats under their belt.”
* Cubs officials enjoyed watching video of Javier Baez’s four home run night on Monday.
“It was quite a show,” Epstein said. “He sprayed it around, covered different parts of the strike zone, different pitches. His swing is really under control and that’s the great thing about Javy and his bat speed. He doesn’t have to swing for the fences. He can take a nice, normal under control swing, the type that would normally produce a line drive or a ball in the gap, and in his case there’s plenty of carry over the fences.”
Dale Sveum watched video of Baez’s blasts.
“I wish I could’ve seen where they landed,” Sveum said Tuesday. “The swings were pretty good. I’ve been watching the video anyway, but one good thing about it is he’s calmed down. He’s cut down his movement [on his swing] about 40 percent, 50 percent. It’s a lot more calm and controled.”
Baez, 20, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, was batting .291 with 13 home runs and 44 RBIs in 57 games. He’s also been charged with 26 errors.
“A lot of his errors have been extreme plays at the end of his range or weird things on rundowns or trying to do too much,” Epstein said. “He needs to polish that up. We actually feel better at this moment about his ability to play shortstop every day in the big leagues than we did on Opening Day because of the way he’s playing shortstop. He needs to clean it up but I have no doubt he can play shortstop at the big league level.”
* Kyuji Fujikawa underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Tuesday his right elbow. Orthopedic specialist Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure in Pensacola, Fla. An MRI in May revealed ligament damage to the reliever’s elbow. In 12 games this season, Fujikawa had a 5.25 ERA, giving up seven runs over 12 innings. This is his first season in the U.S. Major Leagues.
* Reliever Shawn Camp was scheduled to pitch one inning for Class A Kane County on Tuesday, his first Minor League rehab assignment since going on the disabled list with a sprained big toe May 22.
* Epstein is a little divided this week. He grew up a Boston Bruins fan but they are playing the Blackhawks in the NHL Stanley Cup final, which starts Wednesday in Chicago.
“Original six hockey is fantastic,” Epstein said. “The passion for the Hawks in town here reminds me a lot of the way it is for the ‘B’s in Boston. It’s going to be a heck of a series.”
And his pick?
“I’m hoping for a great series, good health all around,” he said diplomatically.
– Carrie Muskat
On Saturday, Dale Sveum said he was considering giving struggling Starlin Castro a day off but the Cubs manager has yet to do so. Castro entered Monday’s game hitless in his last three games and riding a 3-for-38 stretch. Why not give Castro a day?
“I just can’t pull the trigger on it,” Sveum said Monday.
The decision has nothing to do with Castro’s consecutive games played streak of 256, which is longest in the National League.
“If I do it, somebody’s not going to talk me out of it because of a streak involved,” Sveum said. “I don’t think we’re getting a Cal Ripken streak.”
Castro was batting .243 overall, and has had a tough time against left-handers, batting .207.
“He’s still a fixture in our lineup,” Sveum said of Castro, who began this season with a career .297 average. “It’s not that other guys aren’t capable of [playing shortstop], but he’s still a threat in our lineup. At this point right now, I can’t seem to get myself to have enough reasons to do it other than the guy is in a slump. We’re still out here trying to win bb games.”
Castro took early batting practice on Monday for the second straight day, working on the field with hitting coach James Rowson. Has Sveum seen progress?
“I don’t see any of the things that I’d like to see changed being changed,” Sveum said of Castro. “The timing and mechanics jsut aren’t changing enough to center a baseball consistently.”
– Carrie Muskat
Starlin Castro started his 255th consecutive game on Saturday but Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he’s considering giving the shortstop a day off in hopes of getting him back on track offensively. Castro was batting .250 entering Saturday’s game, and was batting seventh in the order for the fourth straight game after hitting second most of the season.
“It’s an everyday battle right now,” Sveum said of the two-time All-Star. “He’s a cutter and slasher [type hitter], who’s going to swing the bat. I’d like to see him back to where he was in 2010 and 2011 when there was a lot less movement going on. He thinks it’s the same mechanics, but they’re not the same mechanics from when he came up. It might look the same but there’s way more movement going on.”
In 2010, Castro batted .300 and followed that with a .307 season and 207 hits. But because he’s had success so early, it’s been a little tough to get Castro to make adjustments. The problem, Sveum said, is that there’s too much movement in Castro’s swing.
Castro’s current consecutive games streak is the longest in the National League. Has Sveum considered giving the shortstop a day?
“It’s getting closer,” Sveum said. “I’m thinking about it more, I should say.”
– Carrie Muskat
* In the second round of the First-Year Player Draft, the Cubs selected Missouri left-hander Rob Zastryzny, who compiled a 3.38 ERA in 13 starts, striking out 82 over 90 2/3 innings.
“Talking to the scouts and [scouting and player development director] Jason [McLeod], [Zastryzny] finished well and can get to 94 [mph], has four pitches, and is a real good competitor,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “Obviously, the record he had didn’t show because of the team he was on. I think the more impressive thing is how he got better each year and finished his season real strong. He’s a guy who gets on the mound and competes with his fastball.”
Zastryzny, 21, was 2-9 but the Tigers averaged 2.5 runs per start. The lefty ranks eighth all-time in Missouri history with 228 strikeouts.
* Starlin Castro batted seventh for the third straight game Friday. The shortstop, who was batting .256 overall, was 1-for-8 in the first two games there after hitting second most of the season. How long will Sveum keep Castro lower in the order?
“I have no idea,” Sveum said. “There’s no timetable on it. Hopefully, we get him back swinging the bat and having quality at-bats and hitting the ball hard. It’s not even seeing thatt he gets hits but more the at-bats and hitting the ball hard.”
* The Cubs pitchers set a National League record with 19 RBIs in the month of May but success does have a price.
“Hopefully, they have as good a month in June as they did in May,” Sveum said. “They out-produced some of the other spots in the lineup. Not putting a downer on it, but now they get pitched a little tougher.”
* No date has been set for Kyuji Fujikawa’s surgery on his right elbow. Fujikawa needs Tommy John surgery, and the team has been waiting for the swelling to subside before setting a date. Reliever Shawn Camp threw his second bullpen Friday since going on the disabled list with a sprained right big toe. He’s making progress, Sveum said, as is reliever Rafael Dolis, on the DL with a strained forearm.
– Carrie Muskat
Dale Sveum decided to make it a little easier on struggling Starlin Castro and dropped the shortstop to seventh in the lineup. Castro has primarily batted second this season, but he entered Tuesday’s game 2-for-20 in his last five games, and was hitless in his last two games. He’s batting .258 overall.
“It’s good,” said Castro, who was dropped in the lineup by previous Cubs managers as well. “If a player is struggling a little bit, putting pressure on himself, he can come back good. This won’t be forever.”
Sveum wasn’t sure how long he’d keep Castro lower in the order but thought he would stay with it for the two Interleague games against the Angels.
“I told him it could change in the next couple days,” Sveum said. “With two American League games, you don’t have to worry about the eight spot. It’ll be that way for these two games. It’ll be a way for him to kick back and relax in another spot.”
Castro has batted .300 each of the last three years at this point in the season. His biggest drop has been against left-handers this year. He was batting .208, and he has a career .308 batting average.
“It’s a little bit tough in the beginning right now,” Castro said. “I know it won’t be like that for a year. I’ve got four months left and hopefully you’ll see a difference. I know I can do more than that.”
The Cubs have tried to get Castro to alter the high leg kick he uses. Sveum seems to be losing that battle.
“We’ve talked about some things with his mechanics,” Sveum said. “When you have a leg kick, you have to be careful about having your hands drift when your front foot hits the ground. [Anthony] Rizzo has a little bit of the same problem a lot of times. It’s a fine line.”
Part of the problem, Sveum said, may be that Castro is trying to change his approach and take more walks and improve on his on-base percentage. It’s something the Cubs have stressed. The problem is, Castro isn’t that kind of hitter.
“He’ll be the first one to tell you, even though his numbers against right-handers are better, he’s still not centering the baseball,” Sveum said. “He’ll get some hits to keep his head above water but he’s not hitting the ball hard consistently.”
– Carrie Muskat
Alfonso Soriano will be the designated hitter Tuesday night and Starlin Castro was dropped to seventh in the batting order for the Cubs. Castro batted .252 in May. Here’s the lineup: