St. Louis Cardinals Joe Kelly and Yadier Molina carried the club to a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs Saturday at the Friendly Confines, but Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro’s error in the fifth inning made the headlines in Chicago.
The Cardinals were threatening with bases loaded with one out in the top of the fifth leading 1-0. Second baseman Matt Carpenter hits a high popup into short left field causing third base umpire Ron Kulpa to call the infield fly rule. Castro drifted over towards the foul line, caught the ball, put his head down, and failed to notice center fielder Jon Jay tagging up from third base. Castro then rushed a throw home bouncing the ball allowing Kozma and Kelly to advance as well, advancing the Cardinals lead 2-0. Castro would later be pulled by manger Dale Sveum for what Castro called a “mental mistake” and replaced by Donnie Murphy who shifted over from third base.
Manager Sveum responded after the game by saying, “There is only so much, only so many meetings and so many things you can say,” Sveum stated. “When you’ve played this much baseball it gets to the point you have to do it yourself.”
This was the first occurance in the short managerial career of Sveum in which he removed a player from a game. He simply had seen enough of the lackadaisical play from his budding shortstop and put an end to his day early. This incident should be taken as a positive for Castro and he should move on having felt the authority of Sveum, realizing that his future is no where set in stone in Chicago.
As for the rest of the day, the Cubs were shutout by St. Louis starter Joe Kelly (4-3, 3.01 ERA) and a dominant supporting bullpen. Kelly threw six scoreless innings allowing only four hits, three walks, and striking out six, while the bullpen of Seth Maness, Randy Choate, and Michael Wacha pitched three scoreless inning of one hit baseball.
However, for Chicago Cubs starter and lone all-star Travis Wood (7-10, 3.13 ERA) he did not have the same success, despite retiring the first nine Cardinal batters. St. Louis began their scoring with back to back doubles in the fourth inning by Matt Carpenter and Carlos Beltran giving the Cardinals an early 1-0 lead. Wood would surrender yet another run on the aforementioned error by Starlin Castro in the fifth inning after loading the bases on a double by Jon Jay, walk to Pete Kozma, and pitcher Joe Kelly hit by a pitch.
The final blow to Wood’s day would come in the sixth inning when MVP-candidate Yadier Molina delieverd a two-run home run to the left-center bleachers scoring Matt Holiday who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning. Chicago’s bullpen of Blake Parker, Michael Bowden, and Hector Rondon would combine to throw 3 2/3 innings surrendering only one hit and one walk, but the damage had been done and the Cubs offense could not put together a rally.
The little production the Cubs did show at the plate came from right fielder Nate Schierholtz who delivered a double and base hit, continuing his productive year and raising his batting average to .271 on the season. Darwin Barney, Donnie Murphy, and pitcher Travis Wood each contributed a hit, but with the lineup going 0-7 with runners in scoring position the Cubs struggled to deliver in key situations, which seems to be an ongoing pain for Chicago.
The Cardinals tallied just as many hits as the Cubs, but were able to capitalize by hitting the alleys and driving the ball. Yadier Molina’s two hits, double(31) and home run(8) led the St. Louis offense, while Carlos Beltran, Jon Jay, and Matt Carpenter each delivered a double of their own.
The Cardinals were able to pick up their seventieth win of the season improving to 70-52, while the Cubs fall to 53-69 and retake their position at the bottom of the division in fifth place, surpassed by the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cubs and Cardinals will play again Sunday afternoon in Wrigley Field at 1:20 CT.
Expect Starlin Castro to be in the Cubs lineup Sunday and hopefully with a clear head, ready to be the star that every in Chicago hopes he can become. *Castro is hitless in his last 16 at-bats and hitting .244 on the season, more than 40 points lower than his .285 career mark.