MINNEAPOLIS - There was no place for Starlin Castro defenders on Twitter Friday night.
The enigmatic shortstop found himself under fire on social media again as he made another mental mistake in the field.
In the first inning of Friday's game against the Twins, Castro booted a routine double-play grounder with the bases loaded and then hung his head while retrieving the ball, allowing Minnesota's Eddie Rosario to motor home from second base on a ball that never left the infield dirt.
Two runs scored on the play and set the tone for the entire evening in an eventual 7-2 Cubs loss.
"That's bad. That's really bad," Castro said. "That's the kind of mistake that can't happen. It's really embarrassing.
"I apologized to all my teammates. That's not supposed to happen. It's tough. I don't have any excuse. That kind of thing can't happen again."
Castro has been plagued by mental mistakes and attention lapses in the field over his career, getting ripped on national TV and building a perception in some corners of the baseball world as a guy who may always be prone to miscues like this.
The error was Castro's 14th of the season, even though the mental mistake doesn't count against him on the stat sheet.
Castro is a stand-up guy, who always faces up to his mistakes. He stood in front of his locker, ready to meet the media immediately after Friday's game, answering every question and looking each reporter in the eye, never deflecting blame or trying to hide from his gaffe.
"It makes me feel really bad because that's not me," Castro said. "I'm better than that. That should never happen. Not even one time. Never.
"Those kinds of things piss me off. ... I don't have any excuse for that. That kind of thing can't happen."
Cubs manager Joe Maddon insists he doesn't care about the physical mistakes in a game where everybody messes up eventually. But Maddon has been preaching a sharp mental focus since coming to the organization and he believes there's still hope for Castro removing those sort of mental lapses from his game, even at age 25 and in his sixth big-league season.
"Yep, we can [fix it]," Maddon said. "I'm a big believer in that. He is young. He has experience, but he's young.
"We just have to keep working on that. That's the way you've gotta coach as a manager. If these guys were perfect, they wouldn't need us. I really like the kid a lot. I know nobody feels worse than he does right now."
Castro said he talked to starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks after the first inning, apologizing and owning up to his mistake.
But Castro wasn't the only guy to make a mistake behind Hendricks in the game. Miguel Montero let a run come home with a wild throw to second base and Kris Bryant threw wide of the first-base bag in the first inning, sinking another shot at a double play.
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Still, Hendricks refused to place blame on his teammates after the game.
"Everybody makes mistakes," Hendricks said. "I'm up there making mistakes all the time. There's no way I'm going to criticize guys ever.
"But they had more plays. Starlin made a great play in the hole later in the game. I just told them to keep their heads up and they'll get some more."
Hendricks did work around the mistake, closing the door for the Twins in that first inning and limiting Minnesota to just those two runs.
Castro tried to make up for the early gaffe, drilling a pair of fly balls to the wall, including a shot to center field in the top of the second with a runner on base.
At the end of the day, the Cubs still presented a unified front and nobody seemed to let their frustrations cloud the message of a 35-30 team hoping to be playing in the postseason this year.
"You have to be able to communicate. That's part of being a team and being good teammates for each other," Hendricks said. "We have to pick each other up.
"If a mistake like that happens, then maybe I can make big pitches, get the next guy out and we can get out of the inning. It's just about constantly picking guys up."