The Rundown: Cubs Lose as Giants, Pirates, and Cardinals Win; Schwarber Hits Leadoff; Must-Read on Javy Baez

The Cubs just couldn’t come through with the big hit they needed last night.

With a tie game in the 6th, the Cubs put runners on first and third with only one out, but couldn’t push across a run. The Giants took a 4-2 lead in the bottom half of the inning due to some dicey outfield defense from the Cubs.

Then in the 7th, the Cubs had another good scoring chance in which they had guys at second and third with one out. Once again, they didn’t score — and that was that as the Cubs went 1-2-3 in both the 8th and 9th.

The Giants won for the first time over the Cubs this season. Things don’t get any easier tomorrow, with a pitching match-up of Dan Haren against the Giants ace, Madison Bumgarner. Last night’s game would have been nice to win.

Surprise, surprise, both the Pirates and Cardinals won last night, so the Cubs lost ground all around. It was a pretty annoying night.

Unconventional lineup

After winning six in a row, Joe Maddon shook up the lineup a bit for yesterday’s game.

In a bit of a surprising move, Kyle Schwarber was inserted into the leadoff spot. It definitely appeared to pay off right from the start, as he opened┬áthe game with a “double” (pop-up that basically fell on the pitcher’s mound) and scored a run. Later in the game, Schwarber harnessed his inner Willie Mays Hayes and stole a base.

The usual Cubs leadoff hitter, Dexter Fowler, was given the night off. He’s a bit banged up right now after being hit by a pitch on Monday. But it appears that he’s going to be OK, as Fowler pinch-hit in the 9th.

Castro starts again

Starlin Castro found himself back in the lineup after having a great game on Tuesday night. Castro admitted before the game that he was a bit “surprised” to be in the lineup and hitting second, writes Jesse Rogers, but Joe Maddon said he likes what he’s seeing from Castro since his benching and wanted to reward him with another start.

“I thought it was natural to put him in the 2-hole,” Maddon said. “Just the way he’s handled this professionally speaks volumes to me and the group.”

Castro has moved closer to the plate as of late, and it appears to be paying off. He┬ádidn’t have a great game last night against RHP Jake Peavy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we go back to seeing a Castro/Tommy La Stella platoon at second base.

It’s hard to really quantify how big an effect a team’s manager has, but I think the benching of Starlin Castro shows just how important Joe Maddon is to this team.

Because Maddon was able to build a relationship with Castro throughout the year, he was able to explain the benching in the perfect way. Rather than hang his head, Castro has been the ultimate professional.

I’m not sure if you’d see the same type of contributions from a benched player under a different manager. Remember, for example, Dale Sveum’s “tough love” with players such as Castro. It didn’t exactly work very well.

A must-read

Read this article from ESPN’s Kevin Van Valkenburg on Javier Baez. It provides a good overview of Baez’s rough season, which included not making the big-league club out of spring training and suffering the death of his sister. But really, the article gives you a peek at what kind of person he is, and it’s hard not to be impressed.

I knew that Baez was very close with his sister, who was born with the condition known as spina bifida, but this article really dives into their relationship, as well as his relationship with the rest of his family.

This quote really cemented things for me: “I thought, ‘What if I could give her my legs? What if I could take her place so she could walk? But she didn’t want that. She wanted to do things for herself.”

I was already rooting hard for Javy to come back and have success with the Cubs this year. But after reading this article, it’s difficult to not pull for him even more.

It’s a long read, but well worth it.

Other notes

* The Cubs placed catcher David Ross on the family medical emergency list yesterday, and recalled outfielder Matt Szczur. Ross will be out 3-7 games.

* RHP Rafael Soriano made a rehab appearance last night at Triple-A. He pitched a scoreless frame.

* Javier Baez, playing third base, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs for Iowa last night.

* Check out this great double play turned by Addison Russell (who returned to the lineup after missing a couple games) and Starlin Castro. I think my favorite part is the reaction by announcer Jim Deshaies:

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