Who amongst us hasn’t at one time or another, had difficulty counting to three? And who can stay fixated on a major league game at Wrigley Field with so many distractions (huge video board, pyro, the P.A. playing the opening notes to Mötley Crüe’s “Kickstart My Heart”, etc.) competing for one’s attention? None of these are defenses offered by Cubs SS Starlin Castro, who calls Saturday’s embarrassing lapse in concentration, “a big mistake…and I had to pay for it.” Said mistake is outlined by the Sun-Times’ Dan McGrath, who suggests, “the Cubs have to ask themselves if the 23-year-old shortstop is the cornerstone player they envisioned when they lavished a seven-year, $60 million contract on him.”
Starter Travis Wood trailed 1-0 as he faced a one-out, bases-loaded predicament in the fifth inning. Matt Carpenter hit a pop-up behind shortstop, short enough that he was called out on the infield-fly rule. Castro backpedaled into short left field, then made an exaggerated follow-through on the catch, pulling his hands below his waist as he jogged toward the left-field line, oblivious to the baserunners. Jon Jay saw he was being ignored, so he tagged at third and sped home ahead of Castro’s late, wide throw for the Cardinals’ second run.
“He made a big blunder there, obviously,” Sveum said. “He lost track of what was going on, for whatever reason, and I pulled him out of the game.”
Sveum wasn’t buying any “explanations,” such as Castro’s relative inexperience — at 23, he has played in 566 big-league games. To Sveum it was a brain cramp, pure and simple, one in a series that calls Castro’s future into question despite his obvious talent.
“We’re reaching here,” he said. “There is no explanation. A guy caught a pop-up and the runner should have stayed at third base. He didn’t, and it cost us. When you’ve played that much baseball, you’ve got to do better.”