Starlin Castro wasn’t the only member of the Cubs who made mistakes in yesterday’s loss to the Reds at Wrigley Field. In fact, the Cubs committed five errors for the first time since 2006. But the 22-year-old was the focus after the game.
Castro, who has a history of mental lapses, committed a fielding error on a slow roller in the top of the third inning and was involved in a baserunning blunder in the bottom of the sixth. The gaffe on the basepaths was particularly facepalm-worthy. After Castro reached on a bloop single that nearly got him thrown out at first base for making a wide turn around the bag, he lost track of the ball on a single by Josh Vitters to right field and was thrown out at third base after being deked by Brandon Phillips at second base.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum initially didn’t rule out the possibility of benching Castro to send a message, but he was back in the lineup this afternoon following a closed-door meeting. Sveum wouldn’t really disclose what was said, but veteran outfielder Alfonso Soriano also met with Castro and told Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com that the young shortstop’s brain still needs to catch up with his obvious physical gifts.
“It can be hard (to be so young), but we play baseball because we love baseball and that’s what we do for a living; that’s our career,” Soriano said. “We have to prepare 100 percent. Like I said to him yesterday, it’s not only catch the ball and throw the ball and hit the ball. This game is more mental. You have to prepare mentally and physically too. Not just physical. You have to prepare yourself mentally and all those little errors mentally cannot happen in this game.”
“He’ll be fine, but like I said, he needed motivation,” Soriano said. “He has to concentrate more on the game because it’s only a 3-3½ hour game. After that you can do whatever you want. You have plenty of time.”
Castro, who is now in his third year in the big leagues, entered play Saturday with a .275/.305/.417 batting line to go along with 11 home runs, 56 RBI and a .723 OPS. He is just 18-for-28 in stolen base attempts (his 10 caught stealings are tied with Willie Bloomquist of the Diamondbacks for the major league lead) while his 17 errors tie him with Dee Gordon of the Dodgers for the major league lead among shortstops.
Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.
With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.
The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.
The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.
Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.
It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.