Starlin Castro redeems himself in Cubs’ walk-off win
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com April 12, 2013 8:51PM
Chicago Cubs' David DeJesus, top left, celebrates with teammate Anthony Rizzo as San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, right, reacts after Cubs' Starlin Castro hit the game-winning double during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Chicago, Friday, April 12, 2013. The Cubs won 4-3. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Updated: May 14, 2013 6:19AM
Starlin Castro couldn’t wait for the game Friday against the San Francisco Giants. He wanted a chance to redeem himself for the costly error he committed Thursday.
“That’s the part I love about this game,” he said. “Every day is a new day.”
Castro took advantage, hitting a walk-off double in the ninth for a 4-3 victory. He also homered in the fifth.
“Losing Thursday was tough because we had a 5-0 lead,” said Castro, whose error in that game started a four-run inning. “That’s why I tried to be more relaxed today.”
Dioner Navarro led off the ninth against Giants closer Sergio Romo with a game-tying homer, his first as a pinch hitter. Two outs later, David DeJesus singled to center. Then Castro sent a 2-1 fastball off the center-field wall.
That took Kyuji Fujikawa off the hook. The closer suffered his first blown save, giving up three runs in the ninth to erase a 2-0 lead. He ended up with the victory.
Castro and the Cubs were sound in the field, led by a second stellar outing by starter Carlos Villanueva. He pitched 71/3 scoreless innings, outdueling Giants starter Matt Cain, who allowed solo homers to Castro and DeJesus.
James Russell induced a double-play grounder to get out of a first-and-third jam in the eighth. But the last three outs were as difficult for Fujikawa as they have been for Carlos Marmol.
Fujikawa gave up three hits, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter. Yet he ended up getting a congratulatory beer shower from his teammates for his first victory.
“I told his translator, ‘Tell him I believe in him and we all believe in him and he’ll be fine,’ ’’ Villanueva said. “He feels bad, you can tell, but that’s why we’re teammates. We love him, and we know he’ll do well.”
Villanueva is winless in two starts, but he left both with a lead. He has a 0.64 ERA in 14 innings.
“Personal stats will come,” he said. “But the atmosphere in our clubhouse, I wouldn’t change it.”
Fujikawa is learning about that team culture as he wrestles with his command.
“I really appreciate my teammates having my back, and to answer it, I have to get my confidence and come back tomorrow,” he said. “It’s my first time pitching in this league, but it’s definitely a tough job.”
If all’s well that ends well, it was as much because the Cubs played a clean game.
They didn’t commit an error and issued one walk, both key factors for a team that entered the game leading the National League in both categories.
“The formula for winning doesn’t come into play when you’re leading the league in walks and errors,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Probably half our errors are because of pure unawareness about how much time we had to make a play.”
Sveum said Castro continues to be challenged by the mental part of the game.
“We talk all the time about slowing the game down, but when we say slow the game down, we don’t mean make the ball go slower or the pitch go slower,” Sveum said.
“It means how can you in your mind, before the ball is hit to you, go over situations in your head? How can you slow the game down in your mind to go over all the scenarios that can happen?’’
Castro might be getting the hang of that now.
“You can be a hero,” he said. “You just have to keep playing hard.”