Results tagged ‘ Starlin Castro ’

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

8/17 Castro: “It’s my mistake”

Dale Sveum said he wanted to think about whether or not Starlin Castro will play in Sunday’s series finale against the Cardinals after the shortstop’s mental gaffe cost the team a run in a 4-0 loss.

The Cardinals led, 1-0, when they loaded the bases with one out in the fifth against Travis Wood. Matt Carpenter hit a popup to Castro in shallow left, and third-base umpire Ron Kulpa invoked the infield-fly rule. Castro caught the ball, and seemed unaware of Jon Jay, who was at third, who broke for home and scored on the sacrifice fly. Castro eventually did throw home, but it was too late.

“I knew the outs and everything, but I put my head down and made a mental mistake,” Castro said. “I don’t want to make any excuses for that. It’s my mistake and that’s why I paid for that, that’s why I came out of the game. I feel really, really bad that it happened, especially with Woody pitching good. I have to pay for that. That’s a mistake that can’t happen in the game.”

Left fielder Junior Lake was yelling at Castro to “Be careful.” Give Jay credit for heads-up baserunning.

“I know the wind can be tricky here, and I saw him make the catch, put his head down, and that’s when I took off,” Jay said. “I took a couple steps and then decided to take a gamble and it worked out.”

Sveum met Castro in the dugout as soon as the inning ended and told the shortstop he was done for the day. Castro was replaced defensively in the sixth, as Donnie Murphy moved from third to shortstop and Cody Ransom entered at third. Castro watched the rest of the game from the dugout.

“The situation is obviously we had a big blunder there and he lost track of what was going on for whatever reason and I pulled him out of the game,” said Sveum, who had never penalized a player like that in his managerial career.

Did Castro offer an explanation?

“There is no explanation,” Sveum said. “A guy caught a ball, a popup, and the [baserunner] should’ve stayed at third base. That’s the bottom line.”

As to whether Castro will play Sunday in the series finale, Sveum said, “I haven’t gotten that far yet.”

It’s been a tough season for Castro, a two-time All-Star, who began the year with a .297 career batting average in the big leagues. He is hitting .244 this year, and is 0-for-16 in his last five games — including two at-bats on Saturday.

“It’s bad,” Castro said, when asked to describe his season. “It’s an unbelievable year, especially for me. I’ve never had a year like that. I feel really bad, especially with that mistake. Today, and my struggles at home plate [hitting], it’s really tough. I don’t put my head down. I know I can be good and finish strong.”

Did he expect to start Sunday?

“Yeah, for sure,” Castro said. “I want to be there, and give 100 percent. I know that kind of thing can’t happen again.”

Said Sveum: “There are only so many meetings, and so many things you can say. When you’ve played this much baseball, it gets to the point where you have to do it yourself.”

– Carrie Muskat

8/17 Castro benched

Starlin Castro’s brain cramp cost him playing time on Saturday. Castro made a mental gaffe on a pop-up in the fifth that allowed the Cardinals to score a run. The Cardinals led 1-0 when they loaded the bases with one out in the fifth. Matt Carpenter hit a pop up to Castro in shallow left, and third base umpire Ron Kulpa signaled infield fly. Castro caught the ball, and seemed unaware of Jon Jay, who was at third, and who broke for home, scoring on the sacrifice fly. Castro finally threw home, but it was too late.

Dale Sveum met with Castro in the dugout as he came off the field, and told the shortstop he was out of the game. Donnie Murphy moved from third base to shortstop for the Cubs, and Cody Ransom entered at third in the sixth.

– Carrie Muskat

8/14 Cubs lineup

Junior Lake, Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney are all sitting Wednesday in the Cubs’ series finale against the Reds. Starter Chris Rusin is ready. He tweeted today: “It’s wins day! Haaa #daygame”

Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
McDonald LF
Rizzo 1B
Castillo C
Schierholtz RF
Murphy SS
Watkins 2B
Ransom 3B
Rusin P

* After going 6-4 in their first 10 games after the All-Star break, the Cubs have gone 4-12 in their last 16 games. The Cubs had a 3.44 ERA in the first 10 games of the “second half” but have a 4.72 ERA in their last 16 games. Also, they’ve batted .227 in their first 10 games after the break and hit .231 in their last 16 games.

– Carrie Muskat

7/31 Cubs 6, Brewers 1

Apparently, Edwin Jackson doesn’t mind a little rain. Anthony Rizzo belted a two-run home run, Starlin Castro added a solo shot and David DeJesus drove in three runs to back Jackson, who continued his second-half resurgence, and lift the Cubs to a 6-1 victory Wednesday night over the Brewers, and avoid a sweep.

Rain stopped play with two outs in the Brewers’ sixth, but Jackson returned after the 1 hour 6 minute delay. The Cubs were going to let the right-hander continue if he was on the mound within one hour. Jackson just made it. He was back on the mound in 55 minutes from when the game was stopped. What did he do during the break?

“I listened to music, rode the bike, and just sat and waited and hoped it didn’t go past 10 [p.m.] because I would’ve been done,” Jackson said. “I just tried to stay loose any way you can and stay relaxed, but still focused at the same time.”

He recalled a game against the Tigers once when he had to wait an hour because of rain, yet still finished the game. This isn’t the first time nature has messed up one of Jackson’s starts. One of his best outings was May 28 against the White Sox, when rained postponed the game after 3 1/3 innings.

“I’m the rain man,” Jackson said. “I’m the designated rain man. It seems like mostly every start we’ve had that’s been rained out has been on my day. I don’t know, maybe a black cloud is trying to follow me.”

There’s a silver lining. The right-hander won for the fourth time in his last six starts, scattering eight hits, including a RBI double by Jonathan Lucroy in the eighth, over eight innings. He completed five July starts with a 1.83 ERA (seven earned runs over 34 1/3 innings).

“His fastball, since the fourth or fifth start of the year, he’s creating a lot of ground balls and getting late action,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s got a ratio of ground ball to fly ball like a power type sinker guy now. It’s 2-to-1, and it’s off the charts for a guy like Derek Lowe and Kevin Brown and [Jake] Peavy who make their living on ground balls. At the beginning of the year, every ground ball he gave up found a hole, and now they’re going at people.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/12 Cardinals 3, Cubs 2

A year ago, Starlin Castro was preparing for his second All-Star Game. On Friday, he was focused on his swing. Castro hit a solo home run in the eighth, but it wasn’t enough as Carlos Beltran smacked an RBI triple and scored on Allen Craig’s single in the first inning to help Joe Kelly pick up his first win of the season in the Cardinals’ 3-2 triumph over the Cubs in front of 37,322 at Wrigley Field.

This was a battle of two swingmen, Kelly and Carlos Villanueva. The Cubs starter did his job, lasting six innings and keeping it close, but Villanueva still took the loss in his 10th start and 26th outing. The right-hander began the year in the rotation, then shifted to the bullpen when Matt Garza returned from the disabled list, and was making his second start since shifting back to starting after Scott Feldman was traded.

“I just couldn’t put those guys away,” Villanueva said. “We did exactly what we wanted to do but didn’t execute the pitches. It just comes down to that. I have to give a lot of credit to [catcher Welington] Castillo. We’ve been working real hard and talking about our game plan and communicating better. Our last two games, we’ve done a good job and doing exactly what we want.”

St. Louis struck quickly as Matt Carpenter singled to lead off the game and scored one out later on Beltran’s triple to right, the first of three hits by the outfielder. Craig followed with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.

Alfonso Soriano hit a RBI dinble in the third but with two outs in the Cardinals’ seventh, pinch-hitter Rob Johnson tripled to right past a diving Nate Schierholtz — who probably shouldn’t have dove — and then scored on Carpenter’s double into the gap in left center.

Castro saw the ball fine in the eighth when he led off against Kevin Siegrist with his sixth home run to close the deficit to 3-2. In his last 16 games since June 26, Castro was batting .299. On June 23, he was batting .228, and Sveum decided to sit the shortstop.

“I feel aggressive and feel like I trust myself and good things will be happening,” Castro said. “You just let your talent do its job and keep working. It’s frustrating sometimes because you’re working hard and the things that are supposed to happen don’t happen. It’s hard.”

The Cubs now are 11-20 in one-run decisions, and 4-9 at Wrigley Field in those games. Castro’s homer was the 100th by the team; last year, they did not hit No. 100 until Aug. 16.

– Carrie Muskat

7/7 Extra bases

* Alfonso Soriano will likely have one more game as the designated hitter on Monday when the Cubs finish their crosstown Interleague series against the White Sox with a makeup game at U.S. Cellular Field. Soriano was batting .353 with three doubles, five homers, 13 RBIs and a 1.235 OPS in his last eight games since June 28. He pickedu up his 32nd career multi-homer game on Saturday, which is tied for eighth-most in baseball with Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones. Jim Thome is seventh on the list with 33 multi-homer efforts.

“The one thing you notice is he’s hitting the fastball,” Dale Sveum said of Soriano. “When you have the confidence when you’re hitting fastballs and you lay off hitting breaking balls, or whatever it might be, and the bat speed is there, and you feel that good, you start doing a lot of good things because you’re laying off a lot of bad pitches.”

Soriano, 37, is 8-for-17 (.471) in four games this year as the designated hitter with two home runs and six RBIs. He has a career .379 average in 26 games as the DH.

* Starlin Castro has scuffled this season at the plate, including a .167 June, and Sveum said they’ve shown their support by letting the shortstop play.

“Part of it is putting him in the lineup every day, that’s the confidence you have in guys like that,” Sveum said Sunday. “Just put him in there, and it’s up to him to come out of it and start swinging the bat and start playing better.”

Castro began this season with a career .297 average in the big leagues. A two-time All-Star, he entered Sunday’s game batting .234.

“I haven’t seen him hanging his head or losing his confidence,” Sveum said.

* Third baseman Luis Valbuena has played better than his stats.

“On a whole, from last year to this year, he’s been so consistent, even though you’re not seeing a .300 batting average,” Sveum said of Valbuena, who was batting .247. “The on-base percentage and the walks seem to always be there on a consistent basis and the defense he’s played has been as good as anybody at third base.”

* Javier Baez, the Cubs’ No. 1 Draft pick in 2011, made quite an impression in his Double-A Tennessee debut Saturday, hitting a home run in his first at-bat on his first swing.

“It’s always nice for anybody to go to another league and your first swing is a home run,” Sveum said. “This guy still has to develop. It’s not just home runs we’re talking about, it’s getting ready and getting completely developed to play at this level.”

Baez led the Florida State League with 17 home runs while at Class A Daytona before he was promoted.

Meanwhile, Albert Almora, the Cubs’ 2012 top Draft pick had to leave Saturday’s game with Class A Kane County because of hemorrhoids. Almora was listed as day to day.

– Carrie Muskat

7/4 Athletics 1, Cubs 0

Travis Wood picked up his 16th quality start, but once again, he had nothing to show for it. The Athletics tallied on a passed ball charged to catcher Welington Castillo in the seventh inning to post a 1-0 victory Thursday over the Cubs, who mustered two hits in the game.

Matt Guerrier, who joined the Cubs on Wednesday from the Dodgers for Carlos Marmol, took over in the seventh from Wood and walked Derek Norris with two outs. Norris reached third on Seth Smith’s single and then scored on passed ball by Castillo, who was catching Guerrier for the first time.

“[Guerrier] made a good pitch and I think I just didn’t read it very good and it went through my legs,” Castillo said. “I’m not going to make an excuse. He made a really good pitch and I didn’t get a read.”

Wood held the A’s to three hits, and now is 0-3 with a 2.58 ERA in his last six starts.

“You just have to keep battling,” Wood said.

“He’s been our All-Star, no question about it,” Dale Sveum said of Wood. “He’s had some very unfortunate incidents and his earned run average would be quite a bit better than it is without some unfortunate, strange occurrences.”

Such as game-winning runs scoring on passed balls. On Sunday, Wood sounded frustrated that he hadn’t done more.

“I’ve got to figure out how to win the ballgames,” he said. “I’ve been able to keep them off balance and not score, but I have to help our team pull through and win the games.”

One thing the Cubs did learn in their first series in Oakland is not to run on left fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Starlin Castro was at second with one out in the fourth and tried to score on Alfonso Soriano’s single, but Cespedes threw him out at home.

“I thought he was [going to score],” Sveum said. “It seemed like a no brainer right off the bat. I don’t know what happened there.”

“It surprised me,” Castro said. “I ran hard right away. When I saw the ball hit, I went right away to home plate and he made a good throw.”

Castro had never seen Cespedes in the outfield.

“The guy made a great throw,” Castro said. “I thought I’d score easy. I never stopped, I never said to myself, ‘I’m out.’ I ran hard right away to second base. I was surprised I was out.”

Oakland starter Dan Straily, promoted from Triple-A Sacramento for the start, combined with Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour on a two-hitter.

Despite the loss, the Cubs finished with a winning road trip (5-4) and will have a winning record in Interleague Play (11-6) for the first time since 2007. At least they proved they could win west of the Mississippi River. Last season, the Cubs were 1-18 on the road against National League West teams, picking up their only win in the last game.

– Carrie Muskat


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