Starlin thinks Rizzo gives Cubs another franchise player

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Starlin thinks Rizzo gives Cubs another franchise player

Its hard to believe, but Starlin Castro is actually more than seven months younger than Anthony Rizzo, and has already played in an All-Star Game and led the National League in hits.

Castro bypassed the Triple-A level that Rizzo dominated for parts of two seasons, and has already lived through the highs and lows that come with being the next big thing.

The vision came to life on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, a lineup built around two 22-year-olds batting second and third and anchoring the infield at shortstop and first base. The Cubs could have this show running for the next decade.

Thats what I want, Castro said before a 5-3 victory over the New York Mets. Me and him, the two franchise (players). Lets see what happens.

This is the grand experiment for president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer. It was part of the calculus when they traded pitcher Andrew Cashner a former first-round pick with 100 mph velocity who some think has the potential to start to the San Diego Padres last winter in the Rizzo deal.

Its too much to read into one move, one decision, Hoyer said. But we felt like we just kind of needed those building-block players to sort of stack on top of each other to create the kind of team we want.

These kind of debut days are fun. Theres a lot of interest in them. But ultimately we know hes going to have his ups and downs. We know there will be adjustments and its really about collecting a lot of players like this and putting them on the field together.

Castro who went 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored and kept his average above .300 had a simple message for Rizzo before he made his debut in a Cubs uniform.

Theres a lot of pressure, Castro said. Theres a lot of eyes looking at him because he was hot at Triple-A. He can come in here and help us.

I told him: Just play. Dont put pressure on yourself, play baseball like you played at Triple-A. Dont think about nothing.

Castro was reminded of his big-league debut on May 7, 2010 in Cincinnati, the three-run bomb in his first at-bat and the six RBI that set a record.

Of course, three nights later, the young shortstop heard the boos at Wrigley Field and had a talk with Lou Piniella in the managers office after committing three errors during his first game at Clark and Addison.

But I put my head up and kept playing, Castro said.

Theres no arguing that point. Surrounded by reporters, Castro stood in almost the exact same spot in front of his locker where he needed a translator almost two years ago. Hes worked hard to learn the language, and is expected to become more of a leader in the clubhouse.

Its tough when youre losing, Castro said, but its a long season and youre working hard in preparation to help your team. The teams gonna be good. We have very good people here. We got a good group.

Rizzo is now on the other side of the room, protection in the lineup and a potential Gold Glove target at first base. The future is here.

Its pretty exciting, Castro said. A lot of people look at him because hes supposed to like a superstar. Its pretty good for me, too.

Never say die: Cubs battle back for wild walk-off win over Pirates

Never say die: Cubs battle back for wild walk-off win over Pirates

It would have been so easy for the Cubs to just chalk this one up as a loss and head home.

But this 2016 Cubs team isn't built that way.

They showed what they're made of again Monday, walking off the Pirates, 8-7, in front of 38,951 fans at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs had plenty of chances to score all game, including in extra innings as Javy Baez was thrown out at home plate to end both the 10th and 12th innings.

In the top of the 13th, the Pirates finally broke through, loading the bases with nobody out against Rob Zastryzny and scoring a run — but only one run.

In the bottom of the 13th, the Cubs got their offense going again as Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant led the inning off with singles to put runners at the corners. Anthony Rizzo then singled through the infield to tie the game and drive home Fowler.

Ben Zobrist was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out, setting the stage for Miguel Montero's walk-off single to start the Cubs' homestand off on a positive note and send Zastryzny home with his first MLB victory.

It capped off a game in which almost 465 pitches were thrown and took more than five hours to complete.

"We got in late last night," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I got back about 3 a.m. So these guys — they're coming off West Coast to the Central Time Zone, they're tired, we had to show up today early for a picture — that happens sometimes — and they came out and played until Midnight.

"Of course you want to win that game. That's a tough game to lose. But understand the effort that you saw tonight based on a lot of fatigue. And that's probably what I'm most proud of."

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The Cubs opened up a 3-0 lead on Pirates rookie starter Steven Brault early, but they could have easily had more, narrowly missing home runs in the first (Zobrist) and third innings (Jorge Soler).

The Pirates, meanwhile, came roaring back against Jake Arrieta. 

First, Josh Bell hit a solo homer just over the basket in left field in the fourth inning. Then Gregory Polanco deposited a three-run shot down the left-field line in the sixth inning, two batters after it appeared the Cubs had gotten a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. Home plate umpire Tripp Gibson disagreed, calling the pitch Ball 4 to Bell and putting two runners on with nobody out instead of two outs and nobody on. Arrieta was irate, staring down the umpire and prompting a visit from Maddon, who proceeded to get in Gibson's face at the base of the mound after calming down Arrieta.

"That's an entirely different baseball game right there that occurred on that particular pitch," Maddon said. "Everything turned on that particluar pitch.

"But I'm not gonna denigrate the umpire. We had plenty of opportunities — PLENTY — to win that game in a normal fashion or earlier. We had so many great at-bats to set it up and then we could not seal the deal."

Arrieta was also saddled with a pair of runs in the seventh inning, with Travis Wood letting two inherited runners score on Josh Harrison's two-out double to make it a 6-3 Pirates lead.

The reigning NL Cy Young winner finished with a tough-luck line that flashed six earned runs in 6 1/3 innings on five hits and three walks.

Then the Cubs began their comeback.

In the eighth, Jason Heyward doubled and Willson Contreras homered to straightaway center.

With one out in the ninth, Soler sent a charge into Tony Watson's offering to tie the game with a blast to center.

That set up Montero for the storybook ending.

"The resiliency of our team is incredible," Arrieta said. "That's what you need down the stretch. ... Just a crazy ballgame all the way around."

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

Preview: White Sox continue series with Tigers on CSN

The White Sox continue their road series with the Tigers on Tuesday night in the Motor City, and you can catch all the action on CSN. Coverage from Detroit starts at 6 p.m. Then be sure to stick around following the final out for reaction and analysis on White Sox Postgame Live.

Today's starting pitching matchup: Anthony Ranaudo (0-1, 7.88 ERA) vs. Daniel Norris (2-2, 3.63 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you're ready for the action.

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Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Isaiah Wright, young fan with cancer, receives VIP treatment from White Sox

Berwyn-native and White Sox fan Isaiah Wright entered the world fighting the odds. At just 14 years old, he has undergone multiple organ transplants and more than 50 surgeries because of a rare birth defect.

Isaiah and his family have an appreciation for just how precious life can be and they were able to make the most of a recent visit to the South Side for a White Sox game, where he received VIP treatment and met his favorite players, including a private meeting with Jose Abreu.

Check out the video above.

A Go Fund Me page was also created to help support Isaiah and his family. Click here to make a donation.