Starlin Castro rebounds and delivers for Cubs

MINNEAPOLIS -- Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro had a simple message in the clubhouse after playing the hero in a 4-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.

"I know that every day is a new day," he said. "I try ... to keep the head up and try to help the team win."

Castro got himself into trouble for putting his head down in a 7-2 loss on Friday night. Castro booted a fairly routine ground ball in the first inning that allowed a run to score. He then hung his head in frustration, sulking over the error, and another run scored to put the Cubs in an early hole. Castro didn't hide his emotions after the game and took the blame for the loss. It certainly wasn't a good look, and he knew it.

Joe Maddon, however, was quick to stand up for his 25-year-old shortstop before Saturday's game.

"He needs our support right now," Maddon said. "He doesn't need our anger or dissent or whatever. As long as he's attempting to do the right things I’m on board."

That support proved to be deserved, as Castro made the most of an opportunity late in Saturday's game. He stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in extra innings and promptly roped a two-run single to outfield to give the Cubs a lead they never relinquished. Chris Denorfia added an insurance run a couple batters later to finalize the score.

"That was a big swing right there," Jon Lester said of Castro's game-winning hit. "It goes back to forgetting what happened last night. You move on. You show up today and whatever happened yesterday, happened yesterday. You've got to worry about today. It’s nice to see that from our young guys.

"You would never know what happened yesterday when he showed up today. That was huge for us. It was a great swing."

Lester was also huge for Chicago and only allowed one run on a 410-foot bomb from Kurt Suzuki early in the contest. Castro's heroics wouldn't have been needed had the Cubs hit better than 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position. That said, Castro was up for the challenge when the time came.

"I just try to be ready," he said. "That's an important thing."

Castro had been a bit unlucky to that point on the weekend. He recorded a couple outs with balls hit to the warning track Friday night and suffered a poor strikeout with runners on first and third in the sixth inning Saturday afternoon. Though he slammed his bat in frustration after that strikeout, Castro said those previous at-bats were useful as they helped set up his hit in extra innings.

"I knew they were going to throw me a fastball on the first pitch," he said. "I just tried to drive the ball."

Castro capped his bounce-back effort, recording the final out of the game with a leaping grab on a line drive from Brian Dozier. That was one of the handful of standout plays he made in the field on the day.

"It felt good," he said. "When I started the game I put it in my mind that I'm going to try to make every play. I wanted to be aggressive and if I make an error, I make it. I make it because I'm being aggressive. I don't make it because I'm scared and I don't want to make an error. I know I'm good. I know I'm better than that. I just try to keep my focus all game and try to make every play."

"I was really happy ... for him," Maddon added. "I didn’t think there was any residue [from yesterday]. He fielded his position really well today. ... He had the final play of the game. He had the game-winning hit. He's done pretty well over the last week or so."