Enhanced Box Score: Cubs 6, Cardinals 4 – May 14, 2012

Whew. The Cubs took a huge lead, blew a huge lead, but then took the game back for good late. Screw you, Cardinals.

Ryan Dempster was cruising until he ran into some trouble in the sixth, when the Cards loaded the bases (and a Yadier Molina double would have unloaded them if not for a great relay throw by Starlin Castro to nail David Freese at the plate). But a healthy chunk of damage was done, and he’d given up four before the frame was over – as many earned runs as he’d given up all season before tonight.

The Cubs easily could have blown a prime chance to score late when Dale Sveum made what may have been one of the worst managerial calls I’ve ever seen.

Scene:

The game is tied in the 8th, and the Cubs are in business, with men on first and second, and nobody out. Better still, Starlin Castro is up with Bryan LaHair behind him. And Castro … sacrifice bunts into a double play. I mean … what? WHAT?

The decision to have Castro bunt in that situation is beyond defensible. Even if he succeeds, the Cubs have men at second and third with one out, and the Cards would just walk LaHair intentionally. It was a criminally stupid decision, and I’ll expect Sveum to have a hell of a good explanation or to fall on his sword.

Or, we won’t hear much about it, because Soriano bailed Sveum out thereafter with a two-out, run-scoring single, and the Cubs won the game.

Bryan LaHair had another huge night, which easily could have been a 4 for 4 night if the Cardinals’ scorekeeper wasn’t a pud.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

117 responses to “Enhanced Box Score: Cubs 6, Cardinals 4 – May 14, 2012”

  1. Daniel

    You know…many people have to take time off from their favorite teams…

    But, I think I need a break from cubs fans. Seriously. I’m so sick of hearing people cry about management. If you look at any baseball teams blog out there, the posters question some of the managers decisions. But, criticism toward Swuem just seems out of hand. It’s his first freaking year managing!! Of course he is going to make dumb decisions. All managers do. I thought he handled the pen perfect tonight. The Castro bunt WAS dumb. If he would have placed it down the third base line, and ran out of the box, it could have been a sweet move.

    I understand frustration, but give the man a chance. It’s not like he’s got an amazing roster to work with.

    1. calicubsfan007

      You do have a point. I apologize if I appeared to be whining about the management. You are definetly right, he is still learning and this is his first year. I can’t wait until three years from now with a solid lineup and Sveum being fully experienced. The Cubs will be dangerous.

      1. Rick Vaughn

        I give Sveum a lot of rope because he is a new coach who was dealt a pretty bad hand. I love what he’s doing on defense with the aggressive positioning and all that. But the Castro bunt tonight described by Brett was a total WTF moment. I attribute it to a brain fart and expect he learned from it.

        How about some credit to Shawn Camp though. I admit I wasn’t his biggest fan early on, but he’s been a horse out of a very weak bullpen.

    2. John

      I have no qualms with the management, and think that Sveum is a good coach….but his managerial skills scare me some. Bunting with your #3 hitter (and best hitter overall) is a terrible idea. I’m even more afraid that the outcome from his obsessive bunting tonight will only embolden him to bunt more…..and give up more outs while leaving his prime hitters’ bats on their shoulders. It would be almost too easy to chalk up the love of the bunt to a fear of failure (considering Sveum’s and Listach’s playing records). I almost think they should have some wizened old star on the bench to say “hey man let Castro give her a shot here,” before they ask their best hitter to bunt. Again, I like Sveum–I just hope this win doesn’t convince him to do it more.

      1. CubbieBlue085

        I would totally disagree there. The bunt didn’t work out as we saw, but its a tie game with Lahair on deck and no one out. A good sacrifice bunt there puts all the pressure on the defense and pitching, Starlin could have struck out without the bunt and still would have required a hit to get Dejesus home. If the bunt was good and we had 2nd and 3rd with one out and they walk Lahair you still only need a sacrifice fly. As Herm Edwards says, you play to win the game, and if you are playing to win you find a path to the easiest way there. Look at the statistics with runners on 1st and 2nd with 1 out and runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out and see which one has a better chance of scoring. Excellent decision by Sveum just bad execution.

    3. Mike Foster

      Totally agree with you Daniel, it could have been a good move IF Castro runs out of the box instead of trotting for an out at first base. But wait, oh duh, they don’t throw to first, first… Castro was the reason that was a DP, not Dale.

    4. bluekoolaidaholic

      See ya, Dan

  2. ty

    O.K. Dan. Have a good break!

  3. Jason "Thundermug"

    Yeah bottomline I have seen improvement from this team from the 1st 2 weeks to the last 3 weeks that is all you can ask. Yes there still alot of weaknesses with this team like the bullpen, power from our outfielders, for example but I feel good that we are heading in the right direction

    1. calicubsfan007

      We really are heading in the right direction. We aren’t cutting corners like Hendry used to, so this is unfamiliar territory for many Cubs fans. But I can see that the mistakes are being cut down and that we are becoming a tougher team.

  4. brittney

    Like I said in my pre-game comment. Its my birthday today and it would have made it a damn good one if the cubs beat the cards and THEY DID. In semi dramatic fashion. So I am a very happy birthday cubbie fan tonight.
    Brett I 199% agree bunting castro was like expecting soto to come thru with the bases loaded….

    1. calicubsfan007

      You are right about Soto. I used to think that he was going to be the backstop of the future, and now I feel kind of stupid thinking that. Not known for having clutch genes. By the way, happy birthday.

      1. John

        As Castillo’s struggles behind the plate demonstrate…I wonder how Soto rates as a catcher. I experienced much of the Cubs/Brewers epic battle on game-day, and was wondering why we didn’t get any low or outside calls that pitch fx showed in the strike zone. Even Marmol was (per pitch fx) throwing strikes…maybe Soto’s early success at the plate has spoiled us somewhat. I have no idea how to rate catcher defense, but maybe there is something to pitch framing/calling, and the possibility of a passable offense from the position. Nobody’s catchers this side of Wieters, McCann and Napoli are doing much these days, and Soto is bound to rebound sometime.

        1. brittney

          John I totally agree there is a decent amount to do with framing and how you catch it. But rating it is hard. You can make educated guesses. Soto is a pretty good defensive back stop, no molina but decent. Seems he calls a better game then castillo for sure! I saw a ball castillo caught horribly, made it look in the dirt and it was in fact a strike but wasn’t given it because of how he caught it. I hope clevenger comes back soon.
          Calicubsfan007-thank you for the birthday wishes!

  5. calicubsfan007

    i think bleacher report said something like “Theo’s first year with the Cubs isn’t going exactly the way they hoped”. It’s always nice to read articles from people who don’t understand what “rebuilding” means, I need a laugh every now and then.

  6. Cheryl

    Sveum has got this team doing better than expected. Yes, i disagree with Castro’s bunt attempt. I still think Castro belongs elsewhere than the number three position but witn DeJesus and Campana there doesn’t seem any other place for him. Sveum should get after his lack of hustle. He seems to hustle when it suits him. Otherwise give Sveum a break. He is learning.

    1. drew

      Cheryl, hes the manager of a professional baseball team – you dont “learn” that having your best hitter give himself up via the sac bunt w 2 on and nobody out is stupid (how many bunts have we seen Castro attempt in his career? I dont remember ANY!).

      I dont know if its just his conservative style or him just having 0 confidence in the offense, but his extreme Mauchian(!) managment style drives me insane.

  7. Chad

    Castro bunting is possibly the dumbest move of the year. But there is more to the story. I often watch the opposing teams broadcast. Tonight was one of those nights. The Cards broadcast showed a couple of different angles that the cubs broadcast didn’t… the Cubs broadcast didn’t show Castro watching the play develop as he walked halfway to first base and finaly started running when he saw that he was going to get thrown out.
    When is this shit going to stop? Castro probably would have beat the the double play if he would have even ran at a normal pace. I know he was thrown back into the box with his bunt attempt, but his effort was pathetic. Somebody needs to rip his ass.
    The Cards announcers assumed that he loped to first because he was pissed Sveum made him bunt….maybe they are right. All I know, he needs to start running out of the damn box.

    1. die hard

      Finally, others are starting to notice what I have been blabbing about for 2 yrs…He needs to be moved to OF where he can watch dandelions grow and hit .375 each yr…he doesnt belong in infield or in situations where he has to do anything but hit away…the kid lacks that intangible that for instance Harper has shown already in DC…or Barney showed from day one…I know the rape allegation is iffy…but this kid is a s&*tstorm waiting to happen off the field too…he needs to be sent down for a month if thats what it takes before its too late to set him straight..

      1. MaxM1908

        I don’t believe moving him to the outfield is the answer, but I think I agree with your overall point. I was furious at Castro last night for watching that play develop. Sveum made a big deal about how the Cubs are going to run out every play and how they will play harder than every team this year. Castro challenged that claim last night. For that, he should sit today in favor of Cardenas. Superstars need to learn that rules apply to them too.

  8. Njriv

    Castro has been the apprentice of A-Ram and Soriano he was also a fan of Hanley Ramirez, none of them really known for their hustle. Hot using it as an excuse, it just came to mind, but this is the time to stop those bad habits.

    1. calicubsfan007

      Wouldn’t the minors be the time for that? It seemed like it would be too late if a player has to learn how to hustle in the majors. Just curious.

      1. MaxM1908

        We do have to remember he is young. He can still break those habits, but he has to be treated with discipline (i.e. sitting him today as punishment for that play). I had a buddy close to the organization who once told me that the best part of not resigning A-Ram is that he wouldn’t be in the clubhouse to influence Castro anymore. Apparently, he was taking Castro under his wing and being a mentor in all the wrong ways. I cringed the other day when ARam was on second and the camera showed Castro and him chatting it up. Good riddance, Aramis.

        1. CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

          I agree. Castro needs to sit today if he truly was loafing. I was only able to listen to the game, and Hughes was going on and on about how the pitch was inside and threw Castro back off balance. It sounds like the majority saw it differently. That being said, Sveum talked ad nauseum early on about accountability. He needs to use this situation as an example, star player or not…

  9. lou brock lives

    Castro is playing the game like he still is in the Dominican Republic. This kid has no sense for game situations because he has not been taught. There is no excuse for not hustling out of the box – last week’s possible inside the park HR & tonite’s failure to run hard after laying down the bunt. He needs to sit for game videos & have someone teach him the finer points of the game. He is strictly getting by on talent alone right now & we need a SS for the future who has a complete understanding of how the game should be played. It’s been 2 years now & he does not seem to be learning the things he should have at the lower levels.
    As for Sveum – what’s his excuse ? Sutcliffe & Boone on ESPN were both bewildered by the bunt decision. It was so obviously such a poor move I believe they were embarassed by Sveum’s little league managing. They stated how the Cubs were playing right into the hand of the Cards.

  10. danimal8

    Sveum…

  11. Idaho Razorback

    Just saw on Sportscenter that the Nationals back up catcher suffered a severe ankle injury. Deal Soto to them now!

    1. Spencer

      I saw this too. That’s some serious bad luck.

    2. Njriv

      If you are talking about Wilson Ramos It was a torn ACL I believe.
      EDIT: I didnt see you said back-up catcher, wow that really sucks.

  12. OCCubFan

    The Cubs seem to be attempting sacrifice bunts quite often. Sabermetric analyses indicate this is the wrong thing to do in most cases. In only a few cases does it makes sense, but the analyses usually assume there is a 100% chance that the sacrifice bunt is successful. In the case of the Cubs, that is a really bad assumption. Why are Cubs players not taught to bunt in the minor leagues?

    1. Andrew

      I think part of what is increasing the sacrifice bunt stats is that Campana bunts in “sacrifice” situations in an attempt to get a hit. He has 6 bunt hits on 14 bunt attempts this year. I’ll take that average all year long.

  13. Brian

    Great win today. Let’s win one more tomorrow. The only tough opponent team until inter league game with tigers (6/10) is giants. I think cubs can go 14-10 in that stretch. Which make us .500 team. Go cubs!!!

    1. die hard

      doable with top of our lineup Castro notwithstanding…need to get Soriano glasses

  14. florida Al

    he said pud!! hahahaha

  15. Adam1680

    They bunted into a force out at 2nd against the Brewers this weekend as well. For a team that practiced bunting so much during spring training, we sure do suck at it.

  16. Steve

    If Im an opposing team ( that would be hard, as I am only 1 man….) I would not throw 1 fastball to La Hair.
    I only had a chance to see 1 inning of the game last night, and of course it was when Dempster was coughing it up… but how did the Cards pitch LaHair ?? The Brewers had a game plan of off speed stuff and he looked BAD…..

  17. ottoCub

    To me, this was a meaningful game. It’s a game the Cubs tried everything they could to lose (bad baserunning, bad defense, missed opportunities all night long with runners in scoring position, a questionable bunt by Castro, etc) The “old” Cubs probably would have lost the game, and we all would have been grumpy this morning. But this year’s Cubs somehow found a way to hold it together well enough to win, against a very good team. For that reason, I woke up this morning feeling good about the Cubs. Which is something I never felt last year.

    1. MaxM1908

      Well said, Otto.

  18. bluekoolaidaholic

    I feel bad for Dempster. He’s still winless after a fantastic start this year.

  19. gratefulled

    Marmol/Wood/Castillo did not pitch = win

  20. MightyBear

    I respectfully disagree and had I been managing, I would have had Castro bunting as well.