Game 56 – Bullpen Blows (Another Lead)
Star of the Game – Albert Pujols – .455 (WPA)
Castro’s Body Language
The Cubs All-Star shortstop was moved down to 7th in the order on Tuesday night, in a bid to get him going at the plate. This is the first Cubs’ game I’ve attended in 2013, and I don’t like Castro’s lack of aggression. In previous seasons he’s been, at times, recklessly aggressive. I’ve always thought it was a big factor in what made him so effective – the game comes naturally for him, and yet recently on TV and last night in person, it looks like Castro is thinking way too much. For several weeks he’s been uncharacteristically NOT dynamic. Hopefully something soon will jolt him into that old version of himself that plays the game a bit recklessly.
I know it’s terribly popular to rip Sveum anytime he takes the ball from one pitcher and passes it to another. Either it’s too soon, too late, not the right incoming pitcher, the list of complaints is long. Tuesday night is a good example of why that type of Monday morning quarterbacking is preposterous. Scott Feldman was really good, but through six innings he’d thrown 95 pitches. I figured we’d see someone new to start the 7th – but who? Well Dale probably had just as much trouble picking a reliever, so he let Feldman pitch to the first two batters of the 7th before inserting Russell to mop up the mess. With a 1-run lead, he called on the Carlos we hate to love. Villanueva gave up the deciding 2-run blast to Cub nemesis, Albert Pujols.
Plenty of fans have been griping about the recent use of the Carlos we love to hate. Marmol has been bad so far in June. Against the Angels, the other Carlos was just as bad. But what’s Dale supposed to do? Gregg is the defacto closer – even if the guys in front of him seem to guarantee he’ll never get another save opportunity. Parker, Putnam, and Rondon are all still wearing their MLB diapers. Dale probably has very little feel for what pitches they throw in which situations, let alone what he might expect from them in a given matchup. That leaves two Carlos’ and your situational lefty who has regularly been doing an inning of duty. It’s a no-win proposition most nights; and my overriding concern after the 6th ended was how the Cubs could patch together 6 outs to get Gregg a freakin’ appearance (let alone save opportunity). But they couldn’t, and it didn’t at all surprise me. When you eat the rancid meat, don’t be surprised if you’re doubled over in front of the toilet at 3am…do you really think Dale is brimming with confidence when he makes a move? He knows he’s pulling the ham of questionable toxicity out of the fridge and trying to piece together a meal that won’t make him vomit.