Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to remove shortstop Starlin Castro from the game after he forgot the number of outs in the top of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Matt Carpenter hit a lazy fly ball to shallow left field where Castro ran it down. As he casually slowed down, Jon Jay on third base noticed his lackadaisical nature and raced home. Castro’s throw home was too late as the Cardinals went up 2-0.
Before the top of the sixth, Sveum told Castro to hit the showers. Donnie Murphy moved from third base to shortstop and Cody Ransom entered the game playing third base. The Cardinals would tack on two more runs that inning on a two-run home run by catcher Yadier Molina, upping their lead to 4-0.
It’s been a tough year for Castro. Playing for one of the National League’s worst teams, he is having his worst season by a mile. His adjusted OPS of 71 is well under his previous career-low of 100 (also the league average) set in his rookie season in 2010. According to Baseball Reference, going by WAR, Castro has been the third-least valuable position player for the Cubs with -0.5 WAR, ahead of only Brent Lillibridge (-0.6) and Scott Hairston (-0.6).
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.