The rookie-showcase series between the Cubs and the Marlins got a rookie exclamation point to finish off the series opener but not much else from the freshmen to show for the Cubs' 2-0 victory Friday night.
In fact, the eye-popping diving catch by rookie shortstop Starlin Castro near the left-field foul line, with two men on to end the game emphasized the performance swings that often come with youthful talent.
``I tried to make that play because of what happened before in the game, and just wanted to finish up on a good note,'' said Castro, through translator/coach Ivan DeJesus, referring to a seventh-inning error on a routine play and a dropped exchange on a would-be double play in the eighth.
``When you make an error, sometimes you could get scared,'' he said through DeJesus. ``You don't want a ball hit to you. The only thing to do is concentrate on the next hitter and try to make every play after that.''
Castro, 20, returned to the lineup after three straight games off because of a bruised hip. Still a few plate appearances from qualifying for the league leaders list, he went 0-for-4 with the two mistakes (including error No. 26, second most in the majors) - and yet still managed to have a profound effect on a positive outcome.
``I believe in retribution,'' interim manager Mike Quade said. ``It was an incredible play to end it that way. After making a couple of mistakes, he was able to somehow catch that ball. ... That [kind of catch] he can do - he's unbelievably athletic to go get that ball and leave his feet and do that.
``And when he combines that with steady play in the area of short as far as day in and day out stuff, then he's going to be one hell of a player.''
Meanwhile, veteran starter Ryan Dempster (14-10) was able to pick up Castro after the error leading off the seventh - finishing off seven scoreless to reach 200 innings for the third straight year.
And Sean Marshall picked up the rookie after the missed double play chance by striking out rookie slugger Mike Stanton to end the eighth with two men on.
``We seem to be playing really good baseball right now, and we're really picking each other up,'' said Dempster of a four-game winning streak that matches the team's best of the season and a 6-1 start to the road trip that assures the best trip of the year.
And, said Dempster, this kind of strong finish - the team is 15-7 under Quade, with 15 to play - should have a carry-over effect on 2011.
``I think the strong you finish this year, the more positive things are for next year,'' he said. ``That's why I think it's important to go through the finish line and not to it. A lot of good comes out of it, for a lot of guys. ... It's a chance for some guys to show what they're made of and for us to show that we're never going to give up and play all the way to the end.''