Friday, a lot of things went right for the Cubs in a 7-0 blanking of the rival Cardinals. But a day later, there wasn't much that could've made Saturday afternoon's game worse.
The Cubs offense was silenced, Travis Wood was chased relatively early, and Starlin Castro made a glaring mental mistake that got him pulled in the middle of the game. All in all, it was a day the Cubs will want to quickly forget, as they fell to visiting St. Louis, 4-0, at Wrigley Field.
Wood started off very well, sitting down the first nine batters he faced. But after back-to-back doubles put the Cardinals up, 1-0, in the fourth, things went south in the fifth.
With one out, Jon Jay doubled, Pete Kozma walked and Wood hit opposing pitcher Joe Kelly with a pitch to load the bases. St. Louis leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter then lifted a pop fly into shallow left field, which was tracked down and caught by Castro. But, apparently assuming there was no way on Earth that Jay would try to tag and score from third, Castro turned away and treated it like a routine play. Jay, however, was watching Castro the whole time, and he took off for home as soon as the shortstop looked away from the infield. By the time Castro noticed, his throw home was too late, and Jay scored to bump the Cardinals' lead to 2-0.
Castro's mental mistake was immediately punished, as manager Dale Sveum removed him from the game following the inning. Though his spot in the order did not come up in the bottom of the fifth, Castro's name was crossed out on the lineup card and replaced with Cody Ransom's, spotted on TV by FOX cameras. When the Cubs took the field in the sixth, Donnie Murphy slid from third to shortstop, with Ransom taking over at third base.
Castro said he didn’t even see Jay when he started to run and was surprised that Jay headed home at all.
“No, I didn’t see him,” Castro said. “(Left fielder Junior) Lake told me. When I caught the ball and put my head down, I hear Lake tell me to ‘be careful, be careful.’ And I threw the ball home, but there was no chance. I feel really bad. It’s tough on me, this day I’ll never forget in my life.
“Yeah, pretty much (I was surprised). But that isn’t any excuse. You have to catch the ball, pull your head up and see what happens. You need to be ready for everything that’s supposed to happen. It’s my mistake, I apologize to my teammates, especially Wood and the coaches and everything. I feel really, really bad.”
The trouble continued for Wood in the following inning, as he surrendered a one-out, two-run homer to Yadier Molina. The long ball put St. Louis on top, 4-0, and chased Wood from the game.
Kelly, meanwhile, held the Cubs offense in check. The Cubs had one prime opportunity, when they loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the third. But Anthony Rizzo struck out on three pitches and Nate Schierholtz grounded to second to end that threat. After that, the Cubs scattered a few more base runners but couldn't get one of them across the plate.
Kelly picked up the win, his fourth of the season and fourth in seven starts since July 6.
Wood took the loss, his 10th of the year. He lasted just 5 1/3 innings, surrendering four runs on four hits, a walk and two hit batters. Entering Saturday's action, Wood was one of just three pitchers in baseball to have a sub-3.00 ERA yet also have nine losses.
That last stat does a good job of illustrating how unlucky Wood has been this season. Again, Saturday, the lefty received no run support.
But in the end, Wood didn’t throw blame on Castro for that one run -- which certainly didn’t cost the Cubs the game -- nor did the All Star call out the lack of offensive support.
“Those things are going to happen behind you,” Wood said. “You’ve really got no control over it, regardless of whether someone makes an error or anything. It’s just like they’ve got no control whether I walk somebody or somebody gets a hit off of me.
“It’s kind of just roll with the punches.”