Starlin Castro's trust in his abilities have paid off in big way for Cubs


Starlin Castro's trust in his abilities have paid off in big way for Cubs

Seven weeks ago, Starlin Castro was at the lowest point in his career.

Now, 41,000 people and all of his teammates clap along in unison as he steps to the plate.

Castro's walk-up song - "Ando En La Versace" by Omega El Fuerte - is so catchy, even opposing players want to join in on the clapping and stomping (Pirates catcher Francisco Cervilli told Castro he wanted to take his glove off and clap along over the weekend).

Since being benched in early August, Castro has been on a roll, hitting .369 with a .992 OPS in 41 games (25 starts). The Cubs are 24-17 in games he plays in during that span.

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In September alone, Castro is hitting .407 with a 1.149 OPS, nine extra-base hits (four doubles, a triple and four homers), 18 RBI and 11 runs in 21 games (14 starts). He also has eight multi-hit games.

"How about Starlin? Starlin's September has been a big part of our success right now," manager Joe Maddon said. "Good at-bats in clutch situations. He's been wonderful."

Castro was heralded as a franchise player for the Cubs for the last half-decade while the team was finishing in fifth place every season. It would have been easy - and even understandable - for him to hang his head and wallow in the benching.

But Castro never did that.

"I just kept my confidence, my head up and my mind strong," Castro said. "I've been through a lot of bad things. It's made me think too much sometimes, but I've just kept it strong and been available for the team.

"I never put my head down. I know my talent. I trust my talent. I was always confident good things are coming up."

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs postseason gear right here]

His walk-up song is giving him confidence, too.

With the entire stadium clapping along to the beat, Castro called it "the most emotional thing" he's ever been through and said it pumps him up when walking to the plate.

The funny thing is, Castro actually didn't want to have "Ando En La Versace" as his only walk-up song, but he said the guy who handles the music convinced him that people love it and it should stay in the rotation.

Now it's a cult hit and the Cubs are a playoff team.

For the first time in his Cubs career, Castro is on a team that will be playing in the postseason, a fact he discussed with fellow franchise cornerstone Anthony Rizzo Saturday after the Cubs clinched a playoff berth Friday night.

"We talked about it in the middle of the game on the field," Castro said. "We're grateful. We went through a lot of bad things and finally, we get into the playoffs, which we worked so hard for."

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati


A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 18th homer of June and 31st of the season came off the Tigers in the Cubs' brief 2-game Interleague series in Detroit. 

Sosa connected in the first inning off Tigers starter Seth Greisinger, going back-to-back with Mickey Morandini. 

The Cubs wound up getting out to a 5-0 start in the game but still lost 7-6 on a Gabe Alvarez single in the bottom of the 11th.

The aforementioned Morandini homer was only the 3rd of the season for the Cubs second baseman. He finished with 8 homers on the year and 224 total bases on 172 hits in what was a very good offensive season. Yet it paled in comparison to Sosa, who had nearly 200 more total bases (416) and a slugging percentage nearly 200 points above Morandini's (.647 to .471), a testament to how truly incredible Sosa's season was.

Fun fact: Tony Clark was the Tigers' cleanup hitter that day. Clark is now the head of the MLB Players Union.

Fun fact No. 2: Paul Bako was the Detroit catcher in the game. He later became the Cubs backup catcher in 2003 and 2004, when he posted a .611 OPS in 119 games over the two years.