Results tagged ‘ Welington Castillo ’

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

6/22 Garza and Navarro

In his last two starts, Matt Garza has given up one earned run over 15 innings. Dioner Navarro was his catcher both games, but Cubs manager Dale Sveum doesn’t want to play favorites. In Garza’s five previous starts, Welington Castillo was behind the plate, and the pitcher was 1-1 with a 6.26 ERA. The right-hander was roughed up in his last outing with Castillo on June 11, giving up nine runs over five innings.

“I’m not going to sit here and say [Navarro] is his personal catcher,” Sveum said Saturday. “It worked out that way. I really wanted ‘Welly’ to catch all four games in St. Louis to kind of just be involved with [Yadier Molina], the best catcher in baseball, to see the similarities, to compete against the best guy in baseball because we want ‘Welly’ to get to that level, or somewhat near it. I really wanted him to play those four games against the Cardinals, so the schedule panned out to where Navarro would get [Garza].”

Sveum said he can tell Garza is comfortable with Navarro. The two were teammates in Tampa from 2008-10. But Sveum doesn’t like the idea of a personal catcher because it sends a bad message to Castillo, who the Cubs consider their No. 1 guy. The Cubs also want Garza to perform at his best.

“When a guy’s on the mound, no matter what, it’s still whatever you want to call it, it’s his game,” Sveum said. “That’s why starting pitching is where everything starts at and you still want those guys to be comfortable.”

If Castillo continues to work four days on, one off, it seems that Navarro will be matched up again with Garza for his next start in Milwaukee.

“I’m not going to lie to you and say it’s not a thought [to pair them together], but only if it works out,” Sveum said. “I’m not going to put [Navarro] in there for that reason.”

Garza can work with other catchers. When he threw his no-hitter July 26, 2010, for the Rays against the Tigers, Kelly Shoppach was the catcher.

– Carrie Muskat

6/20 Cardinals 6, Cubs 1

Scott Feldman had never faced the Cardinals before Thursday, and after spending three days watching from the dugout, he discovered what everyone else already has: These guys are really good. Matt Holliday hit a tiebreaking RBI single and a solo home run to back Lance Lynn and lift the Cardinals to a 6-1 victory over Feldman and the sputtering Cubs, who dropped to 9-24 against the National League Central.

Feldman had to battle, and served up six hits over 5 1/3 innings, which was all the Cardinals needed. He dropped to 0-4 with a 6.65 ERA against NL Central teams.

“I knew going in that they had a good lineup and obviously, [Yadier Molina] is swinging the bat about as good as anybody I’ve ever seen right now,” Feldman said. “You’ve got to make your pitches and at the same time, be aggressive. I think you’ve got to tip your cap tonight. They did a great job and just beat me.”

Lynn did his homework, too. Chicago managed two hits in Wednesday’s 4-1 loss, and mustered three off Lynn over six innings as the right-hander picked up his 10th win to join teammate Adam Wainwright and Washington’s Jordan Zimmermann on top of the NL leaderboard.

“Coming here, we knew it was going to be tough to score runs and obviously, it was,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “We didn’t swing the bats at all. We only had five hits today, so seven hits in two days ain’t going to win too many ballgames, no matter how good your pitching is. Our starting pitching was pretty good in all four games against the best offense in baseball. We never really put any threats together. Today we weren’t too aggressive.”

After the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead on David Freese’s run-scoring groundout in the second, Welington Castillo tied the game with a leadoff home run in the third, his first since April 8. But the Cubs missed an opportunity in the fifth when they loaded the bases with two outs, and Lynn got Castro to pop up to Molina in foul territory.

“[Castro] is a guy who doesn’t scare from those situations,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “Getting the pop up was a big out for us.”

“I just tried to go see one pitch, and I hit it,” Castro said of the at-bat. “That team, they have pretty good pitching. [Lynn's] fastball is a little bit sneaky, and I tried to get on top and it didn’t happen.”

The Cubs shortstop finished the seven-game road trip 4-for-30, and he’s now batting .232 for the season. A year ago, he was batting .300.

“He’s not the Lone Ranger in all this,” Sveum said about Castro. “There isn’t a whole lot of hitting going on.”

Alfonso Soriano went 2-for-29 on the trip, while Anthony Rizzo was 5-for-21, and the Cubs completed the trip, 3-4.

– Carrie Muskat

6/19 Cubs Inbox

Got a question? Send it to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and maybe it will make the next Inbox on Monday on Cubs.com. Please include your full name and hometown.

Q: I’m a stats kind of guy. I noticed that Welington Castillo is a much better hitter in the daytime (.305) than at night (.219). Yes, it’s a small sample but most of Dioner Navarro’s starts come in the daytime. I would assume that Sveum has a valid reason for this but perhaps Navarro’s starts should come more often at night? Just an observation. — Travis C., Cedar Rapids, IA

A: My first reaction was that Castillo had played more day games, so the numbers may be lopsided but that’s not the case. Through Tuesday, he’s played 27 games in the day time, 26 at night. The splits aren’t too far off — he’s 29-for-95 during the day, 21-for-96 at night. I’ll ask him tonight before the game, and update later.

Q: Why doesn’t Cody Ransom get more playing time? He’s solid and can produce some big hits, I feel. — Jacob B.

A: Since you wrote, Ransom has gotten more playing time. Sveum has used him in a platoon at third with Luis Valbuena, inserting Ransom against left-handed pitchers. Ransom was batting .293 vs. lefties compared to .167 against right-handers. On Tuesday against the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Ransom did connect for his first home run off a right-hander, and was batting .304 (7-for-23) this month after a .200 June. One of the reasons Ransom bats high in the order is to give him more at-bats.

Q: I was pleased with the Cubs Draft this year. How soon will we see Kris Bryant? Any chance he could be called up in September even just to give fans a look at him? Thanks. — John L., Portland, Ore.

A: If you want to watch Bryant play, you’ll have to go to one of the Cubs’ Minor League teams, possibly Kane County. He won’t be called up in September. First, the Cubs have to sign the third baseman, who is represented by super agent Scott Boras. The Cubs have a signing bonus pool of $10,556,500, and an assigned value of $6,708,400 for Bryant. Talks are ongoing.

Q: With Steve Clevenger coming back from injury and seeming to get a hit in every rehab game, I would assume he will be brought back to the Majors once he’s ready. When this happens, who do you think will be sent down with most of the backups playing well? Would the Cubs consider sending a bullpen guy down for an extra bat? I’m afraid you’ll say Julio Borbon but I don’t want to see that late inning speed sent down. — Michael F., Raleigh, NC

A: Clevenger does give the Cubs some versatility. With three catchers available, Sveum could use Dioner Navarro or Clevenger as a pinch-hitter, and not worry about losing a backup catcher if something happened to Welington Castillo. Right now, Clevenger is getting at-bats at Triple-A Iowa and playing some infield there. Sveum was asked Tuesday about the left-handed hitter, and there’s no date set for his return. Part of the problem is that they have plenty of left-handed bats right now.

Q: With the upcoming renovation of Wrigley Field, are they going to address how small the seats are? People were a lot smaller back in the early 1900s and these days, you feel like you’re jammed in there like a sardine on both sides with no leg room. — Jeff, Calgary

A: The renovation plan includes installation of new, wider seats at Wrigley Field. It should be a more comfortable way to watch the game.

6/12 Sveum backs Castillo

After Tuesday’s game, Cubs pitcher Matt Garza said he didn’t feel he’d found a good rhythm yet with catcher Welington Castillo.

“Being in this game for as many seasons as I have, I need to take control and I need to guide him through it,” Garza said. “I’m not doing what I’m supposed to do. I’m going to get ready in five days and try to make it right.”

Castillo has caught every one of Garza’s five starts this season.

“[Garza] pitched a pretty good game with [Castillo] behind the plate a couple outings ago,” manager Dale Sveum said of the right-hander’s May 31 start against the Diamondbacks, when he gave up two earned runs over seven innings. That also was Garza’s only win.

“If you get the ball up, it doesn’t matter who’s catching,” Sveum said.

That was the problem for Garza on Tuesday against the Reds when he served up a career high nine runs. Sveum said he does support pitchers who feel more comfortable with one catcher.

“In this case, it was definitely not warranted,” Sveum said.

– Carrie Muskat

5/31 Cubs lineup

Matt Garza makes his third start since coming off the disabled list on Friday when the Cubs open a three-game series against the Diamondbacks. Lefty Wade Miley starts for Arizona. Here’s the lineup:

DeJesus CF
Castro SS
Rizzo 1B
Soriano LF
Hairston RF
Castillo C
Ransom 3B
Barney 2B
Garza P

* Garza needs to drive in one run to tie the Major League record for most RBIs by pitchers in a calendar month. The 1940 Tigers totaled 20 RBIs in August. The Cubs pitchers set the National League record on Thursday, thanks to Travis Wood’s grand slam. The Cubs pitchers have 19 RBIs in May.

* Catcher Welington Castillo appears to be fine after taking a bat on the knuckles of his left hand in Thursday’s game. The back swing caught his hand, and he was called for catcher’s interference.

* Garza has surrendered three or fewer earned runs in 18-consecutive home starts dating to June 27, 2011. That’s the longest stretch by a Cub since Kerry Wood allowed three or fewer earned runs in 22-straight home starts from July 7, 2000-April 20, 2002. In his last 18 starts at Wrigley Field since June 27, 2011, Garza is 7-4 with two complete games and a 1.97 ERA.

* Cubs pitchers not only have the most RBIs, they lead all Major League staffs with six doubles and four home runs. The homers have come in the last 13 games dating to May 15.

– Carrie Muskat

5/29 Cubs 9, White Sox 3

In the sixth inning, Dioner Navarro’s bat went flying into the stands behind the Cubs dugout as he swung at a pitch. Usually players just grab another bat but Navarro wanted that one back, and for good reason. Navarro notched his first career multi-homer game Wednesday, hitting three and driving in six runs in the Cubs’ 9-3 Interleague victory over their intracity rivals, the White Sox. And he used the same bat for each home run.

“He did his best little [Lionel] Messi impression today with the hat trick,” Anthony Rizzo said of Navarro, who is a huge soccer fan and wears a Messi shirt every day before games.

Navarro hit a solo homer in the second, a two-run shot in the fourth, and a three-run blast in the seventh. He set a career-high with six RBIs, and is the first Cubs player to record a three-homer game since Aramis Ramirez did so July 20, 2010, against the Astros. You have to go back to April 17, 1974, for the last time a Cubs catcher hit three in a game. That was George Mitterwald’s big game against the Pirates.

All the offense won’t get Navarro more playing time, though.

“[Welington] Castillo’s our starting catcher,” Dale Sveum said. “Let’s not get carried away with a guy having a great game. … It’s just nice to have a backup catcher doing the things he does and handling the pitchers he handles.”

Navarro’s first two blasts came from the right side of the plate; his third was as a left-handed hitter, and he’s the first to homer from both sides of the plate since the Cubs’ Mark Bellhorn did so Aug. 29, 2002, at Milwaukee. And all with the same bat.

“I’m a really superstitious guy, and I had a good feeling for that bat,” Navarro said.

He had never hit three home runs in a single game.

“I hit two one time in Little League,” he said. “That was about it.”

He’ll be back on the bench on Thursday but using the same bat in BP. What if it breaks?

“I’m going to cry,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

5/24 Extra bases

* Alfonso Soriano did not start Friday, getting a breather in the Cubs’ first game of a three-game series against the Reds. Manager Dale Sveum said Soriano, 37, will definitely be in the lineup for next week’s Interleague series against the White Sox, which starts Monday. Soriano is one option as the designated hitter, and Sveum said he’s also considering Dioner Navarro and Welington Castillo.

The Cubs were expected to face lefties Jose Quintana and Chris Sale in the first two games against the White Sox. Sveum has hinted he’ll tweak the lineup he’s used so far against southpaw starters and include some of the left-handed hitters. Any hints?

“I don’t know,” Sveum said. “Wait and see.”

* Starlin Castro, who appeared to injure his right ankle sliding into second base on Thursday, was in the lineup on Friday. The shortstop now has appeared in 243 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the National League, and second longest in baseball. Prince Fielder has appeared in 389 games in a row.

“I’m good to go,” Castro said.

* The Cubs have not hit a home run on the road since April 28 in Miami.

– Carrie Muskat

5/13 Post-game notes

* Alfonso Soriano extended his hitting streak to three games with his home run on Monday. It was his 376th career blast, tying him with Carlton Fisk for 69th on MLB’s all-time list.

* Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to four games. Welington Castillo is batting .382 in 15 home games.

* With Monday’s win over the Rockies, the Cubs have won three in a row, matching their season high. They are 11-9 since April 23.

* The Cubs totaled eight extra-base hits and lead the NL with 131. They also lead the NL in doubles.

* Kyuji Fujikawa pitched Sunday and Monday, his first back to back games since coming off the disabled list. That was by design, manager Dale Sveum said. Fujikawa will get Tuesday off, and likely pitch Wednesday. He had been sidelined with a strained right forearm.

– Carrie Muskat

5/13 Cubs 9, Rockies 1

Travis Wood and Hippo Vaughn now have something in common, even if they’re not very familiar with each other. Wood posted his eighth consecutive quality start and hit an RBI double, one of six by the team, while Alfonso Soriano belted a two-run homer, and Starlin Castro, Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus all drove in a pair to lift the Cubs to a 9-1 victory Monday night against the Rockies.

Wood is the first Cubs left-hander to open the season with eight quality starts since Vaughn did so in 1919. Wood admitted he had never heard of Vaughn. That’s OK. This was the 23rd quality start by a Chicago pitcher this season, and while they have a combined 1.90 ERA in those games, the team has won only nine. Wood held the Rockies to two hits and walked three over seven innings.

“That was against a lineup that crushes left-handed pitching,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of the Rockies, who entered the game batting .277 against southpaw pitchers. “To throw like that against those guys, the way they hit against left-handed pitching, was very, very impressive.”

Wood struggled in spring 2012 and began last season at Triple-A Iowa. He’s a different pitcher now.

“What he’s done since Spring Training of last year is pretty impressive,” Sveum said.

On Monday, the lefty was able to pitch to both sides of the plate and had impressive command of his cutter.

“He’s doing a lot of this without secondary pitches,” Sveum said. “It’s not like he’s throwing a lot of curveballs or changeups. He’s mixing in those pitches and using them when he has to against people who are vulnerable and able to use both sides of the plate and be aggressive and not walk people and help out with his bat, too.”

Basically, Wood has learned how to pitch.

“When they sent me down after spring last year,” Wood said, “I just got some work in on what they thought I needed and what I thought I needed and I was fortunate enough to be able to get those things ironed out and so far so good. I’ve been rolling from last year.”

Wood has a scraggly beard that he isn’t going to trim any time soon.

“I’m not really sure what I’m doing with it right now,” he said of his facial hair. “It just started, and I didn’t intend to let it keep going but it’s kind of hard to cut it right now.”

“I think he’s going to keep it,” catcher Welington Castillo said.

The Cubs have talked about how Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro are part of the young core they want to build around, and have signed both to long-term deals. What about Wood?

“I would love to be here for a long time with the Cubs but that’s out of my hands,” Wood said. “I’m not really thinking about that right now at all. We’ve got to go out and win tomorrow, and I’ve got four more days to get ready for my next start and hopefully we can keep going on.”

– Carrie Muskat

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