Results tagged ‘ Starlin Castro ’

9/29 Cardinals 4, Cubs 0

Jeff Samardzija closed the season on Sunday, taking the loss in the Cubs’ 4-0 decision to the playoff-bound Cardinals in front of a sellout crowd of 44,808 at Busch Stadium. Whether it was Dale Sveum’s last game as manager won’t be known until Monday, when he meets with Theo Epstein.

“We’ll find out in whatever it is, 12 hours, 15, whatever it is,” Sveum said. “It’s upon us.”

There were a lot of hugs between the players and coaches in the visitor’s clubhouse after the game. With the loss, the Cubs finished last in the National League Central at 66-96, a slight improvement over the 61-101 record in 2012. Epstein has repeatedly said he’s not judging Sveum on the team’s won-loss record.

“There were some positives,” Sveum said of the season, citing Anthony Rizzo’s stats, the emergence of reliever Hector Rondon, the development of catcher Welington Castillo. “It was a tough year all the way around.”

In 2012, Samardzija’s first year as a starter, he was shut down in early September when he’d reached his innings limit. This year, the kid gloves were off. Samardzija struck out four over six innings to finish with 213 2/3 innings, 214 strikeouts, and 19 quality starts out of 33 outings. But the Cubs couldn’t get him a win, and ended the season losing 14 of their last 18 games. He will finish among the top 10 pitchers in the National League in innings and strikeouts.

“I’m satisfied,” Samardzija said of his season. “I had a strong year, felt good, pitched every start, threw a lot of innings, lot of strikeouts. I need to limit the damage in crooked number innings, and once we do that, and cut those down to one instead of three, and cut the walks down, too, I think you’re looking at a different year. I’m still hungry and eager to improve for sure.”

With the win, the Cardinals will host the winner of the Reds vs. Pirates Wild Card Game, and the Braves will play host to the Dodgers in the NL Division Series. The Cubs’ players headed home.

“It’s not about playing six months, it’s about playing that seventh month,” Samardzija said. “Otherwise you’re just out here buying time. I want to win and pitch in October, and that’s it.”

Maybe next year?

“I think in three years — two or three — I think we’ll be competing,” Starlin Castro said. “I feel me and this guy right there [Rizzo], we work together and we’ll be a good team for sure.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/29 Castro: Next year, strong mind

It was a disappointing season for Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro, who heads home to the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, happy with the way the year finished.

“I tried to finish strong,” Castro said Sunday. “I know it’s a bad year. But what I’m looking for is how I’m feeling right now — I feel like my old [self], I feel pretty good at the plate and that’s how I’m trying to finish so I come back next year with the same intensity.”

The shortstop began this season with a career. 297 average in the big leagues but headed into Sunday’s game batting .246 overall. This month, he’s batting .269, and was hitting .270 in 39 games in the leadoff spot. Castro will work with strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss in the offseason in the Dominican.

“I think next year, I’ll have a strong mind,” Castro said. “It’s bad because it’s a bad year, but I think it’s good because I learned a lot. I never had a bad year, and I think this has been important for me to put my mind strong and grow more.”

Dale Sveum said both Castro and first baseman Anthony Rizzo learned about themselves and how to deal with slumps and adversity this season. There have been highs and also lows, such as the Aug. 17 game when Sveum benched Castro after the shortstop’s mental gaffe led to a run scoring in a loss to the Cardinals. Does Castro want Sveum back as manager?

“Yeah, why not?” Castro said. “But it’s not my decision. I think he’s OK.”

The Cubs did try to change Castro’s hitting style, but his struggles at the plate resulted in letting the shortstop “be me” as he said. He described his relationship with Sveum as “good, nothing bad.”

“I want to be me,” Castro said. “I know I make errors, I know I make mistakes, and I paid for this, but I want to be like me. I don’t need pressure on myself, just play baseball. That’s what I need. Let me play baseball and I’ll be all right.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/16 Gold Glove nuggets

Gold Glove ballots will be distributed this week. Here’s a look at recent or season-long defensive accomplishments by qualifying Cubs defenders:

* Welington Castillo leads all Major League catchers with a 2.5 defensive WAR (2.5) this season.

* Anthony Rizzo leads all ML first basemen in defensive WAR (0.6) and leads all National League first basemen with an .900 ultimate zone rating. Rizzo ranks second in the league with a .996 fielding percentage this season.

* Darwin Barney leads all National League second basemen in defensive WAR (1.4), and has made only four errors this season, by far the fewest by any everyday second baseman. Barney’s .993 fielding percentage is far and away the best in the National League. He began this season with a 71-game errorless streak and takes an active 41-game errorless streak into tonight’s game.

* Starlin Castro has made four errors in his last 72 games starting June 26. He has an .882 ultimate zone rating during that span, second-best among NL shortstops, and a .988 fielding percentage, also second-best among league shortstops in that span.

9/14 Web gems

* Anthony Rizzo leads all Major League first basemen in defensive war (0.6) and leads all National League first basemen with an .899 ultimate zone rating. Rizzo is second in the league with a .996 fielding percentage this season.

* Darwin Barney leads all Major League second basemen in defensive war (1.4), and has made only four errors this season. His .993 fielding percentage is far and away the best in the NL. Barney began the season with a 71-game errorless streak and takes an active 39-game errorless streak into tonight’s game.

* Starlin Castro has made four errors in his last 70 games starting June 26. He has an .879 ultimate zone rating during that span, second-best among NL shortstops, and a .987 fielding percentage, third-best among league shortstops in that span. However, Castro does rank 10th among NL shortstops with a .971 fielding percentage for the season, and has committed the most errors (18).

9/12 Leadoff man

The Cubs miss David DeJesus at the top of the lineup. So, looking ahead to next season, who might be the Cubs’ leadoff man? It could be Starlin Castro.

“He could be that guy,” manager Dale Sveum said Thursday. “That’s where he seems to hit the best. Look throughout all of baseball. It’s not the easiest thing to find is a bonafide leadoff guy.”

Castro most likely would have to bat .300 to have the on-base percentage needed to fill that spot.

“The way he’s been hitting lately, I think he’s learned a lot where he could hit at the top of the order,” Sveum said.

This season has been a struggle for Castro, who was began with a career .297 average, but was batting .241 with nine home runs, 30 doubles and 39 RBIs entering Thursday’s game.

“Offensively, he’s had his toughest year,” Sveum said of the shortstop. “The adversity and how to deal with that is another learning experience in the big leagues. The one thing we know about this game is it’s a humbling game and how you get through that is basically it.

9/2 Marlins 4, Cubs 3

Travis Wood served up two home runs, including a three-run shot to pitcher Henderson Alvarez, as the Marlins beat the Cubs, 4-3, on Monday. Wood was making his 28th start, a career high, and gave up four runs over seven innings. The Cubs scored all of their runs in the first and that was it. Starlin Castro, Luis Valbuena and Anthony Rizzo hit consecutive singles in the Chicago first against Alvarez, tying the game when Castro scored on Rizzo’s hit. Dioner Navarro followed with another RBI single and Nate Schierholtz added a sacrifice fly for a 3-1 lead. Alvarez had to leave the game because of tightness in his hamstring.

Wood missed in his bid for his 22nd quality start. The last Cubs left-hander to reach that figure was Ken Holtzman, who totaled 25 in 1970. Since 1921, Dick Ellsworth’s 29 quality starts in 1963 pace Cubs lefties.

The Cubs now have lost 18 of their last 23 home games, and are 5-15 in one-run games at Wrigley Field. Chicago has not won three in a row at home since a four-game streak, July 6-9.

9/1 Extra bases

* On Sunday, the Cubs look to win two-straight home games for the first time since taking three in a row, July 6-9 vs. the Pirates and Angels.

* Starlin Castro has recorded multi-hit efforts in three of his last four games, and has four extra-base hits in his last two games (three doubles, one home run) after recording just two extra-base hits in his first 26 August contests.

* The Cubs have averaged 5.3 runs in their last six home games (32 runs total) after scoring 12 runs in their previous eight home games, Aug. 3-18, including five shutout losses.

* Anthony Rizzo (21 homers) and Nate Schierholtz (20) form one of three left-handed hitting duos with 20 home runs apiece this season, joining the Reds’ Jay Bruce (26) and Joey Votto (20), and the Mariners’ Raul Ibanez (25) and Kyle Seager (21).

The Cubs previously had two left-handed 20-home run hitters in a season 40 years ago when Rick Monday (26) and Billy Williams (20) did so in 1973. Prior to that, it hadn’t happened since 1962 when Williams and George Altman had 22 home runs apiece.

8/31 Cubs 4, Phillies 3

Starlin Castro smacked his first home run in a month Saturday, hitting a tie-breaking shot leading off the sixth, and Cole Gillespie drove in two runs to lift the Cubs to a 4-3 victory over the Phillies for just their fourth win in the last 21 home games. The Cubs evened the series at Wrigley Field in front of 36,410, and spoiled Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg’s bid for a sweep against his former team.

It was a see-saw battle. Kevin Frandsen hit a solo home run in the Phillies’ fifth, but the Cubs tied it in the second on Welington Castillo’s RBI single. In the Phillies’ third, Chase Utley hit a grounder to Donnie Murphy, but Anthony Rizzo closed his glove before catching the ball for an error. Utley then stole second, and Carlos Ruiz followed with a RBI double. Cubs starter Chris Rusin took a deep breath. He should’ve been out of the inning after throwing eight pitches but instead needed 16 more pitches to finish.

The Cubs got some payback in their half. With two outs in the third, Murphy was safe on an error by Michael Young, Junior Lake singled, and Murphy scored on Castillo’s single. Young hit a RBI triple in the fourth to take a 3-2 lead but the Cubs loaded the bases and tied the game on Cole Gillespie’s sacrifice fly.

Castro connected on a 1-0 pitch from Zach Miner leading off the sixth for his eighth homer of the season, and first since July 31. The Cubs now have hit 89 home runs at Wrigley, second-most by a team at home in the Majors behind the Orioles, who have 94.

– Carrie Muskat

8/18 Castro in Cubs lineup

Dale Sveum decided Starlin Castro had been punished enough by being taken out of Saturday’s game, so he put the shortstop in the starting lineup on Sunday.

“The way I look at it is obviously, he had enough punishment, if that’s the right word or not, but I think to be embarrassed on national TV and what’s been written in the paper today, I think that’s plenty enough,” Sveum said Sunday. “These kind of things happen from time to time, they’re getting less and less. I don’t think this kid can get better by not playing today and understanding the adversity that we all go through in the game.”

Sveum said every player has one year they’d like to forget. This is probably that year for Castro. Now it’s time to move on.

“I don’t think you get better by sitting around and not doing anything,” Sveum said. “He knows. He was obviously very remorseful and knows what happened. He’s a guy who’s got to perform for us and be a championship player when we get to that stage in the organization.”

Sveum said Castro was remorseful when they talked both Saturday and Sunday.

“He’s a smart kid and the one thing, I don’t want the public or anyone to think this kid is by any means a bad kid,” Sveum said. “He’s a great human being and a great kid and tries to do the best he can. We’ve got to get that out of him somehow.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/18 Cubs lineup

Starlin Castro was in the Cubs’ starting lineup Sunday for the series finale against the Cardinals, one day after being benched for a mental gaffe that cost the team a run. Ironically, Saturday’s game marked a career-high 25 straight games at shortstop without an error for Castro. His previous career mark of 24-straight errorless at shortstop was July 14-Aug. 9, 2011. Dale Sveum said Castro was remorseful after the mistake.

Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus LF
Lake CF
Rizzo 1B
Schierholtz RF
Castillo C
Murphy 3B
Castro SS
Barney 2B
E. Jackson P

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