The Rundown: Castro Living in the Moment, Cubs Enter Toughest Stretch of Season, Pelicans One Win from Title

The elegiac ballad of Starlin Castro still has a few couplets left and he’s aiming to write them in a more uplifting tone. As Patrick Mooney wrote yesterday, the deposed shortstop appreciates the opportunity to play for a winner and isn’t letting his decreased role ruin his enjoyment.

Castro is going to appreciate the ride on a playoff contender – and not try to predict which teams could use a three-time All-Star shortstop who will be 26 years old next season.

“I don’t really think about this,” Castro said. “I don’t really put that kind of thing in my mind. Whatever they decide…if it happens, it happens.

“I don’t really (make) this about me right now. Just enjoy the moment. And (whenever) I get my opportunity, I try to do my job. That’s all we care about right now.”

I’ve vacillated between apologetic and apoplectic when it comes to Castro’s play this season, but this new role is really the best thing to happen to him in a while. ADD claims aside, breaking up the routine and putting him in a position to earn his at-bats seems to have had a significant impact on Castro’s play.

Just a couple weeks ago, Drew Brown and I had discussed whether Castro might actually be passed over for the playoff roster, but he’s certainly proving us wrong at this point. The Cubs are going to need him to continue the hot hitting if they want to get through the grinder they’ve got ahead of them.

7 games, 6 nights

The Cubs have one helluva week ahead of them, as they play 4 games in 3 days in Pittsburgh before heading home to take on the Cardinals for a 3-game set. In case you hadn’t been paying attention, those are the teams with the two best records in baseball. Notice I didn’t say “the two best teams,” as I don’t think anyone’s playing better baseball than the Mets.

The Giants are still 7 games back for the Wild Card spot, but they’re not exactly facing a murderer’s row in the next couple weeks. They host Cincy and Arizona for the next 5 games before traveling to San Diego — a team they just finished mopping up to the tune of 27-4 over the course of 3 games — and then Oakland. It’d take a pretty monumental swing for positions to change, but the Cubs can ill afford to faceplant right now.

Pelicans win again

Tyler Skulina threw 5 innings of one-hit ball and the bullpen allowed only 3 more knocks to hold the Wilmington Blue Rocks scoreless in a 2-0 victory. The Pelicans will now travel back home to finish out the Mills Cup Championship Series, one way or the other. I think it’ll be one way, though you can never count out the other in baseball.

Jorge Soler was 1-for-4, but it was Victor Caratini who came up big for the visitors. The DH went 2-for-4 with 2 doubles, driving in Pin-Chieh Chen both times to provide all the offense on the night. Game 3 will be Wednesday; I think the Pellies (I’m not even sure that’s a legit nickname, but I like it) close it out and sweep the series.

If Cubs fans weren’t already paying attention to this series, they might have a bit of extra incentive to follow the upcoming game(s), as it was just announced that Soler will be finishing out the series in Myrtle Beach. This is kind of a good news/bad news situation; good because Soler is able to play every day and bad because he’s still not ready to return to the Cubs. By all accounts, he should be able to return to the Bigs for the final couple weeks of the season.

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