I’m sure Jack McKeon would have benched Starlin Castro for the rest of the decade by now, but Cubs manager Mike Quade has taken a less extreme approach to handling the 21-year-old shortstop’s lack of hustle.
In the first inning of yesterday’s game Castro failed to run after a ground ball that went past him and into the outfield, forcing center fielder Reed Johnson to make the play, and after giving him an immediate scolding Quade later said:
It better not happen again, and he knows it. He just gets frustrated. He wants to make the play. He doesn’t make the play, and then just has a letdown. I’m sorry he didn’t make the play either. It would’ve been a great play. But stay after the play and stay involved. Then later on he dove for a ball and Reed was right there. That bothered me some.
Quade went on to praise Castro’s overall performance this season and promoted his All-Star candidacy. A manager freaking out about a 21-year-old’s lack of hustle would create more headlines and garner approval from a certain segment of the fan base, but ultimately I think Quade is taking the right approach. Castro is an incredible young talent having an excellent season and if the manager is confident his lack of hustle won’t turn into a bigger problems there’s no reason to blow things out of proportion for now.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.