Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo beats shift with two bunt singles
BY STEVE GREENBERG Staff Reporter May 15, 2014 10:03PM
Updated: May 16, 2014 7:09PM
ST. LOUIS — What else was Anthony Rizzo supposed to do? The Cardinals had the big ol’ shift on for the burly lefty’s first couple of trips to the plate Thursday, so he dropped a couple of bunts down the third-base line for easy singles.
Actually, there’s nothing easy about a power hitter deftly laying down a perfectly executed bunt, let alone two of them. Rizzo now has three career bunt singles, after having only one in his previous 285 career games.
If he can bunt like this, the shift will go away, it seems.
“Wherever they play me, they play me,” he said. “If they give me that big of a hole, it just makes sense [to bunt] sometimes.”
Different year, different player
Shortstop Starlin Castro reached a couple of offensive milestones.
First, with his fourth-inning home run, he scored the 300th run of his career — not bad for a 24-year-old who’s still developing as a hitter. Then again, considering Castro has more hits — by a wide margin — than any other big-league shortstop since the start of the 2011 season, perhaps his development is further along than some seem to believe.
Castro’s second milestone didn’t involve a round number or even a very traditional statistic, but it was highly significant. His eighth-inning single was his third hit of the afternoon and gave him seven three-hit games on the season — tying his total for all of 2013, when he played in 161 games but batted only .245. He’s at a far more robust .291 in 2014.
WHIP not so bad
Justin Hammel entered his eighth start with the third-lowest average of walks plus hits per inning pitched in the majors. Even after his first non-quality start of the season, his WHIP didn’t fall far — from 0.86 to 0.91 — and, at least temporarily, he remained ranked third by a tiny margin over No. 4 Masahiro Tanaka.