Starlin Castro says the 2015 Cubs don’t give games away like previous North Side squads. They don’t give away outs and they “fight all night.”
Castro made those comments before hitting a walk-off single Saturday to beat the Padres, 7-6, in 11 innings at Wrigley Field.
Maybe he was onto something.
“I could tell earlier that we weren’t going to give it away,” Castro said. “We can fight and we can play.”
The wild win had it all: Rookie sensation Kris Bryant collected his first career hit, veteran catcher Miguel Montero hit a pair of home runs, and the Cubs battled back from a disastrous four-run ninth inning to salvage a win.
Bryant, fresh off an underwhelming debut in which he went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts, reached base safely five times. He had two singles and his first RBI, as well.
More importantly, Bryant put together six strong plate appearances and walked three times – two of which came after falling behind 0-2 and 1-2 in the count.
He tied the game in the fifth inning with his first big-league hit, an RBI single on a soft fly ball to center field. Bryant later kept the Cubs’ 11th inning alive by beating out an infield hit to help set up Castro’s game-winning heroics.
“He had a really good baseball game today,” manager Joe Maddon said of Bryant. “The fans and folks that watch really closely, they understand the importance of accepting a walk. You don’t look for your walk, you accept your walk. After yesterday it was ingrained in his mind that he was not going to do that again.”
The Cubs bullpen had its worst showing of the season in the ninth inning, when Phil Coke and Hector Rondon combined to allow four runs to blow a 6-2 lead.
Coke gave up two singles to open the inning, and Rondon couldn’t close the door. He gave up a single to Justin Upton and a double to Will Middlebrooks, who scored the game-tying run.
The bullpen wasted a strong start by Kyle Hendricks. The right-hander retired 14 straight batters after giving up a two-run home run to Matt Kemp in the first inning. They were the only two runs he allowed in six innings.
“Phil and Ronnie are gonna be there for us all year,” Hendricks said. “It happens. It’s baseball. I had a terrible start my first start. They’ll bounce back, but it was huge to keep the game tied and give us a chance.”
Zac Rosscup, who was called up this week to replace injured infielder Tommy La Stella, pitched two innings of shutdown relief after Rondon. He gave up one hit and struck out two in earning his first win of the season.
The bullpen had been one of the Cubs’ greatest strengths coming into the series. The relief corps came in with the best ERA in the National League and trailed only the Royals in the American League.
“When you give up a lead like that it’s really tough, mentally, just to stay put,” Maddon said, “and our guys did. That’s what I’m most impressed about. We stayed put.”