Goat horns fit Welington Castillo in ugly 4-2 loss by Cubs to Padres
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com May 2, 2013 10:05PM
Chicago Cubs catcher Welington Castillo during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Ill., on Thursday, May 2, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 4, 2013 6:36AM
One day after Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts threatened to move the team, it got worse for Cubs fans.
The Cubs threatened to stay.
An ugly eighth inning that cost the Cubs the lead in a 4-2 loss to the woeful San Diego Padres on Thursday offered another reminder of the on-field renovations in progress with a young team struggling to find its way and search for its core.
“I feel like I lost the game,” said Welington Castillo, one of those potential core players.
The young catcher made the mistake of assuming runner Kyle Blanks had sprinted from third and headed for home as soon as Shawn Camp’s pitch eluded Castillo for a passed ball with two out in the eighth.
What Castillo didn’t see was that Blanks had stopped, started and stopped again as the ball bounced quickly off the low brick wall that is three feet closer to the plate this season. When Castillo lollygagged after the carom, Blanks restarted and scored the tying run easily — to a cascade of boos from the sparse, chilled crowd.
“Yeah, I talked to him,” stern-faced manager Dale Sveum said.
Said Castillo: “I want to apologize to all my teammates for doing that. That’s not going to happen anymore.”
To be fair, the next six batters reached base off Camp and James Russell, taking Castillo off the hook.
If anything, the play before Blanks scored — when a pop-up to shallow right glanced off right fielder Julio Borbon’s glove for a single as he and second baseman Darwin Barney nearly collided — was the difference in the field.
But the moment for Castillo — just like a few moments for Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo a few series ago — underlined the broader point of the renovation work underway at Wrigley.
“I’m the one that has to keep everybody in the game, and I was out of the game,” Castillo said. “All you guys saw what happened. … You have to just go harder, because you never know what happens.”
But it’s not about blame as much as it is teaching moments. For Castillo. For Castro and Rizzo before him. For the next fill-in-the-blank-core-guy next week.
“Let’s not get carried away,” Sveum said. “He’s been playing really well and throwing people out, and he’s been a big part of why these starting pitchers are pitching really well, too. He obviously had a mental lapse today, but he’s caught really, really well for a young kid that had a half year in the big leagues.”
He’s also one of the top hitting catchers in the majors.
But the often painful reality for this team is more about the growing pains that promise to continue — with only the promise of some faraway vision of October baseball offered in exchange to the paying customer.
“It was a shame we had two defensive plays that were obviously a difference in the ballgame, but we had some great plays,” Sveum said, referring to a pair of late-inning gems by Castro and a diving, sprawling catch of a foul ball by Rizzo that propelled him behind the rolled-up tarp in the eighth.
Young lefty starter Travis Wood (2-2) missed pitching eight scoreless innings by the difference of the Borbon-Barney play.
“It was a tough one to lose,” said Wood, who, when asked, defended Castillo and didn’t cast blame. “With that being said, you’ve got to play every inning, every catch, every play like it’s the last play.”